There are 3 million deaths per annum worldwide due to tuberculosis, and AIDS is compounding the problem. A better vaccine than the live mycobacterium currently in use, bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), is needed. When mice were injected with plasmid DNA encoding a single mycobacterial antigen (65-kDa heat shock protein, hsp65) they made specific cellular and humoral responses to the protein and became immune to subsequent challenge with Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Protection was equivalent to that obtained by vaccinating with live BCG, whereas immunizing with the protein was ineffective. Protection was also obtained with DNA encoding another mycobacterial antigen (36-kDa proline-rich antigen). These results suggest that DNA vaccination might yield improved vaccines to replace BCG.