Vaccination is the best approach for controlling the spread of chlamydial infections, in animal and human populations. This review summarises the progress that has been made towards the development of effective vaccines over the last 50 years, and discusses current vaccine strategies. The ultimate goal of vaccine research is to develop efficacious vaccines that induce sterile, long-lasting, heterotypic protective immune responses. To date, the greatest success has been in developing whole organism based killed or live attenuated vaccines against the animal pathogens Chlamydophila abortus and Chlamydophila felis. However, similar approaches have proved unsuccessful in combating human chlamydial infections. More recently, emphasis has been placed on the development of subunit or multicomponent vaccines, as cheaper, safer and more stable alternatives. Central to this is a need to identify candidate vaccine antigens, which is being aided by the sequencing of representative genomes of all of the chlamydial species. In addition, it is necessary to identify suitable adjuvants and develop methods for antigen delivery that are capable of eliciting mucosal and systemic cellular and humoral immune responses. DNA vaccination in particular holds much promise, particularly in terms of safety and stability, although it has so far been less effective in humans and large animals than in mice. Thus, much research still needs to be done to improve the delivery of plasmid DNA, as well as the expression and presentation of antigens to ensure that effective immune responses are induced.