[en] Molecular biology and technical advances in DNA recombination have ushered in a new era in vaccinology. This article examines the recent development of specific marker vaccines and examines the impact of their use on the diagnosis and prevention of major infectious diseases. Gene-deleted vaccines, DIVA strategies (differentiating infected from vaccinated animals) and similar methods have been successfully applied in the control and eradication of Aujeszky's disease, infectious bovine rhinotracheitis, classical swine fever, foot and mouth disease and, recently, avian influenza. The efficacy and performance of existing marker vaccines and their companion diagnostic tools (which should be assesed by an independent body) are discussed, as are the ways in which these tools are deployed by competent authorities. The limits and the advantages of the use of marker vaccines are carefully analysed in the light of practical experiences. Although these vaccines can limit the speed and the extent of virus dissemination and thus reduce the number of animals slaughtered, marker vaccines are no substitute for sanitary measures. Early detection and warning systems and the quick implementation of sanitary measures, including stamping out, remain key issues in the control of highly contagious diseases.