Abstract Since the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) started its spread through the human population, the AIDS epidemic has steadily increased on all continents unchecked by any therapeutic or preventive intervention, except for education. The search for an AIDS cure is facing great difficulties as HIV, a human retrovirus, is able to integrate and remain latent in the human genome for years. An effective vaccine thus remains the only foreseeable way to control and eventually eradicate AIDS. The unique pathogenicity and variability of HIV have raised new challenges in vaccine design, testing and evaluation. The status of the intense research efforts undertaken to solve these problems were assessed at a recent workshop on the AIDS vaccines.