Mass vaccination, when coupled to profound improvements in general sanitation, has given rise to the most remarkable transformation in public health in human history. Yet the development of vaccines remains largely trapped in the past, a hostage to the methodology of Pasteur. Infectious disease continues to threaten humanity, with new and renascent diseases emerging continually. The last two decades have seen a breath-taking revival in the commercial market for vaccines and the simultaneous emergence of a whole tranche of new technologies that promise to free vaccine development from the muddle of empirical thinking. In this short introduction, we set the scene for this renaissance, and explore how the combination of computational and experimental techniques promise so much for the future development of vaccines and the science of vaccinology.