Novel vaccines against ectoparasites have the potential to be cost-effective new technology for pest control that avoids some of the real and perceived problems with insecticide and acaricide usage. Nevertheless, their development is in its infancy. A vaccine against the cattle tick Boophilus microplus, the world's first vaccine against an ectoparasite, is in field use in Australia. Considerable effort had gone into the development of a vaccine against the sheep blowfly Lucilia cuprina, while other vaccines are at an earlier stage of development. The identification of critical antigens and their production as effective recombinant proteins remains the greatest hurdle. Characteristics of the few known antigens and the mode of action of the protective immune response are discussed. Development of further vaccines will depend on recognition of likely antigenic targets. The efficacy of such vaccines will depend on the characteristics of the target species, in particular its digestive biology and the way in which the novel vaccine impacts on the parasite population.