Vesicular adjuvant systems composing dimethyldioctadecylammonium (DDA) can promote both cell-mediated and humoral immune responses to the tuberculosis vaccine fusion protein in mice. However, these DDA preparations were found to be physically unstable, forming aggregates under ambient storage conditions. Therefore there is a need to improve the stability of such systems without undermining their potent adjuvanticity. To this end, the effect of incorporating non-ionic surfactants, such as 1-monopalmitoyl glycerol (MP), in addition to cholesterol (Chol) and trehalose 6,6′-dibehenate (TDB), on the stability and efficacy of these vaccine delivery systems was investigated. Differential scanning calorimetry revealed a reduction in the phase transition temperature (T c) of DDA-based vesicles by ∼12°C when MP and cholesterol (1:1 molar ratio) were incorporated into the DDA system. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) revealed the addition of MP to DDA vesicles resulted in the formation of multi-lamellar vesicles. Environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM) of MP-Chol-DDA-TDB (16:16:4:0.5 μmol) indicated that incorporation of antigen led to increased stability of the vesicles, perhaps as a result of the antigen embedding within the vesicle bilayers. At 4°C DDA liposomes showed significant vesicle aggregation after 28 days, although addition of MP-Chol or TDB was shown to inhibit this instability. Alternatively, at 25°C only the MP-based systems retained their original size. The presence of MP within the vesicle formulation was also shown to promote a sustained release of antigen in-vitro. The adjuvant activity of various systems was tested in mice against three subunit antigens, including mycobacterial fusion protein Ag85b-ESAT-6, and two malarial antigens (Merozoite surface protein 1, MSP1, and the glutamate rich protein, GLURP). The MP- and DDA-based systems induced antibody responses at comparable levels whereas the DDA-based systems induced more powerful cell-mediated immune responses. © 2006 The Authors.