The history of the development of influenza virus vaccine is traced from its origin with experimental studies of influenza virus in ferrets and mice and the first trials in man. Knowledge of the basis of immunity to the viruses in experimental animals and in man has grown steadily over the years and has been essential to successful immunization. Virus variation affecting the surface antigens of the virus is seen as the principal obstacle to the application of vaccines in man. So significant are the changes occurring during antigenic drift that former concepts of a polyvalent vaccine cannot provide a solution of the problem of the composition of vaccines. Disrupted virus vaccines appear to provide the answer to the prevention of vaccine reactions.