In order to establish effective mucosal immunity against various mucosal pathogens, vaccines must be delivered via the mucosal route and contain effective adjuvant(s). Since mucosal adjuvants can simply mix with the antigen, it is relatively easy to adapt them for different types of vaccine development. Even in simple admixture vaccines, the adjuvant itself must be prepared without any complications. Thus, CpG oligodeoxynucleotides or plasmids encoding certain cDNA(s) would be potent mucosal adjuvant candidates when compared with other substances that can be used as mucosal adjuvants. The strategy of a DNA-based mucosal adjuvant facilitates the targeting of mucosal dendritic cells, and thus is an effective and safe approach. It would also provide great flexibility for the development of effective vaccines for various mucosal pathogens. © 2009 Expert Reviews Ltd.