T-cell vaccination may prevent or treat cancer and infectious diseases, but further progress is required to increase clinical efficacy. Step-by-step improvements of T-cell vaccination in phase I/II clinical studies combined with very detailed analysis of T-cell responses at the single cell level are the strategy of choice for the identification of the most promising vaccine candidates for testing in subsequent large-scale phase III clinical trials. Major aims are to fully identify the most efficient T-cells in anticancer therapy, to characterize their TCRs, and to pinpoint the mechanisms of T-cell recruitment and function in well-defined clinical situations. Here we discuss novel strategies for the assessment of human T-cell responses, revealing in part unprecedented insight into T-cell biology and novel structural principles that govern TCR-pMHC recognition. Together, the described approaches advance our knowledge of T-cell mediated-protection from human diseases.