Dengue virus poses a major threat to global public health: two-thirds of the world's population is now at risk from infection by this mosquito-borne virus. Dengue virus causes a range of diseases with a small proportion of infected patients developing severe plasma leakage that leads to dengue shock syndrome, organ impairment and bleeding. Infection with one of the four viral serotypes results in the development of homotypic immunity to that serotype. However, subsequent infection with a different serotype is associated with an increased risk of developing severe disease, which has led to the suggestion that severe disease is triggered by immunopathology. This Review outlines recent advances in the understanding of immunopathology, vaccine development and human monoclonal antibodies produced against dengue virus.