Cancer immunoediting explains the dual role by which the immune system can both suppress and/or promote tumor growth. Although cancer immunoediting was first demonstrated using mouse models of cancer, strong evidence that it occurs in human cancers is now accumulating. In particular, the importance of CD8+ T cells in cancer immunoediting has been shown, and more broadly in those tumors with an adaptive immune resistance phenotype. This Review describes the characteristics of the adaptive immune resistance tumor microenvironment and discusses data obtained in mouse and human settings. The role of other immune cells and factors influencing the effector function of tumor-specific CD8+ T cells is covered. We also discuss the temporal occurrence of cancer immunoediting in metastases and whether it differs from immunoediting in the primary tumor of origin.