Effective immunity to malaria has been clearly demonstrated among individuals naturally exposed to malaria, and can be induced by experimental infections in animals and humans. The large number of malaria antigens has presented a major challenge to identifying protective responses and their targets, and it is likely that robust immunity is mediated by responses to multiple antigens. These include merozoite surface antigens and invasion ligands, variant antigens on the surface of parasitized red blood cells, in addition to sporozoite and liver-stage antigens. Immunity seems to require humoral and cellular immune components, probably in co-operation, although the relative importance of each remains unclear. This review summarizes recent progress towards understanding the targets and mechanisms that are important for mediating immunity to malaria.