There has been a recent resurgence of interest into new and improved vaccine adjuvants. This interest has been stimulated by the need for new vaccines to combat problematic pathogens such as SARS and HIV, and to counter potential bioterrorist attacks. A major bottleneck in vaccine development is the low immunogenicity of purified subunit or recombinant proteins, creating the need for safe human adjuvants with high potency. A major problem in the search for the ideal adjuvant is that adjuvants that promote cell-mediated (Th1) immunity (e.g. Freund's complete adjuvant) generally have unacceptable local or systemic toxicity that precludes their use in human vaccines. There is a need for a safe, non-toxic adjuvant that is able to stimulate both cell-mediated and humoral immunity. Inulin-derived adjuvants that principally stimulate the innate immune system through their ability to activate the alternative complement pathway have proven ability to induce both cellular and humoral immunity. With their excellent tolerability, long shelf-life, low cost and easy manufacture, they offer great potential for use in a broad range of prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines. Based on successful animal studies in a broad range of species, human trials are about to get underway to validate the use of inulin-based adjuvants in prophylactic vaccines against hepatitis B, malaria and other pathogens. If such trials are successful, then it is possible that inulin-derived adjuvants will one day replace alum as the adjuvant of choice in most human prophylactic vaccines.