The p53 protein is an attractive target for immunotherapy, because mutations in the p53 gene are the most common genetic alterations found in human tumors. These mutations result in high levels of p53 protein in the tumor cell, whereas the expression level of wild-type p53 in nonmalignant tissue is usually much lower. Several canarypox virus recombinants expressing human or murine p53 in wild-type or mutant form were constructed. Immunization with these viruses protected BALB/c mice from a challenge with an isogenic and highly tumorigenic mouse fibroblast tumor cell line expressing high levels of mutant p53. The tumor protection was equally effective regardless of whether wild-type or mutant p53 was used for the immunization, indicating that the immunologic response was not dependent on any particular p53 mutation and that immunization with this live virus vaccine works effectively against mutant p53 protein expressed in a tumor cell. In tumors escaping immunologic rejection, the expression of the p53 protein was commonly down-regulated.