New and effective tuberculosis (TB) vaccines are urgently needed to control pulmonary TB, and in particular to prevent the spread of drug-resistant strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. These drug-resistant strains can range from those resistant to first-line drugs to those that are almost impossible to treat. To develop new and effective vaccines for HIV and malaria has been difficult and it is proving to be just as challenging for TB. TB is a complicated disease with a spectrum from apparently controlled latent infection to active clinical disease and so different types of preventive or post-exposure vaccine may be needed. Identifying the most promising vaccine candidates to move into clinical trials is difficult, as we lack biomarker signatures that can predict protective efficacy. There is a risk that the failure of the MVA-85A vaccine to show efficacy when given to previously BCG-vaccinated South African infants will impact on the resources available for the development and trials of other candidate TB vaccines. Continued support for the development of new TB vaccines should remain a priority as an effective vaccine would bring huge public health benefits.