Long synthetic peptides (LSPs) have a variety of important clinical uses as synthetic vaccines and drugs. Techniques for peptide synthesis were revolutionized in the 1960s and 1980s, after which efficient techniques for purification and characterization of the product were developed. These improved techniques allowed the stepwise synthesis of increasingly longer products at a faster rate, greater purity, and lower cost for clinical use. A synthetic peptide approach, coupled with bioinformatics analysis of genomes, can tremendously expand the search for clinically relevant products. In this Review, we discuss efforts to develop a malaria vaccine from LSPs, among other clinically directed work.