Although it has been shown that the size of nanoparticle-based vaccines is a key determining factor for the induction of immune responses, few studies have provided detailed analyses of thresholds or critical sizes of nanoparticle vaccines. Here we report effects of the size of gold nanoparticle (GNP)-based vaccines on their efficiency of delivery to lymph nodes (LNs) and induction of CD8+ T-cell responses. We further propose a threshold size of GNPs for use as an effective vaccine. To examine the effects of GNP size, we synthesized GNPs with diameters of 7, 14 and 28 nm, and then conjugated them with recombinant ovalbumin (OVA) as a model antigen. The resulting OVA-GNPs had hydrodynamic diameter (HD) of ˜ 10, 22, and 33 nm for 7, 14 and 28 nm GNPs, respectively and exhibited a size-dependent increase in cellular uptake by dendritic cells (DCs) and subsequent T-cell cross-priming and activation. Upon injection into a mouse footpad, both 22- and 33-nm OVA-GNPs showed much higher delivery efficiency to draining LNs than did 10-nm OVA-GNPs. An ex vivo restimulation assay using OVA as an antigen revealed that frequencies of OVA-specific CD8+ T cells were higher in mice immunized with 22- and 33-nm OVA-GNPs than in those immunized with 10-nm OVA-GNPs; moreover, these cells were shown to be poly-functional. In a tumor-prevention study, 22-nm OVA-GNPs showed greater antitumor efficacy, and higher infiltration of CD8+ T-cells and greater tumor cell apoptosis and cell death than 10-nm OVA-GNPs. Taken together, our results suggest that the size threshold for induction of potent cellular responses and T-cell poly-functionality by GNPs lies between 10 nm and 22 nm, and highlight the importance of nanoparticle size as a critical parameter in designing and developing nanoparticle-based vaccines.