Immune control of HIV often fails due to viral escape from cellular and humoral host immune responses. Vaccine development is a daunting task because of the ability of HIV to adapt rapidly to different selection pressures and quickly restore viral fitness when transmitted to new hosts. In addition, the global viral diversity poses significant difficulties for accurate and standardized testing of immune responses in the infected host, slowing the generation of data that are crucial to defining relevant immune correlates of controlled HIV infection. Many recent studies have shed light on some of the potentially important factors of protective immune responses and have provided further insight into the viral kinetics determining immune control, viral adaptation, and immune escape. This knowledge will likely further guide the design of broadly applicable HIV vaccine candidates.