Although effective in reducing mortality, current antiretroviral therapy for HIV infection involves complex and expensive drug regimens that are toxic and difficult to take. Eradication of HIV reservoirs is not possible with existing therapies. The concept of therapeutic vaccination has been investigated to increase the potency and breadth of anti-HIV immune responses in order to delay or reduce antiretroviral therapy use. A variety of approaches targeted to both cell- and antibody-mediated immunity have been developed, including whole inactivated HIV-1, protein subunits and synthetic peptides, DNA vaccines and a number of viral vectors expressing HIV-1. These investigations have occurred in the absence of a clear understanding of disease pathogenesis or the correlates of protective immunity. At this time, there is no licensed therapeutic vaccine for any viral disease, including HIV; however, this review will consider recent progress in the field and summarize the challenges faced in the development of a therapeutic HIV vaccine.