We have constructed a plasmid DNA encoding the full-length cDNA for human carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) driven by the cytomegalovirus early promoter/enhancer and demonstrated that this plasmid can function as a polynucleotide vaccine. The immune response elicited by the CEA polynucleotide vaccine is dose and schedule dependent. There appears to be a threshold dose of 50 micrograms capable of inducing CEA-specific lymphoblastic transformation, lymphokine release, and antibody response. Doses of 10 micrograms were significantly less effective. When 50-micrograms doses are employed, thrice weekly or weekly vaccination schedules more reliably elicit CEA-specific immune responses by day 43 than does an every-3-weeks schedule. Furthermore the CEA polynucleotide vaccine can immunoprotect against challenge with syngeneic CEA-transduced colon carcinoma cells as early as 3 weeks after the first vaccination. Studies are ongoing to demonstrate the ability of CEA polynucleotide vaccination to treat pre-existing syngeneic mouse colon and breast carcinomas expressing human CEA.