Aluminium adjuvants potentiate the immune response, thereby ensuring the potency and efficacy of typically sparingly available antigen. Their concomitant critical importance in mass vaccination programmes may have prompted recent intense interest in understanding how they work and their safety. Progress in these areas is stymied, however, by a lack of accessible knowledge pertaining to the bioinorganic chemistry of aluminium adjuvants, and, consequently, the inappropriate application and interpretation of experimental models of their mode of action. The objective herein is, therefore, to identify the many ways that aluminium chemistry contributes to the wide and versatile armoury of its adjuvants, such that future research might be guided towards a fuller understanding of their role in human vaccinations. Copyright 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.