Influenza vaccines have been in use for more than 60 years and have proven to be efficacious in protecting from influenza infections during epidemics and the recent H1N1 pandemic. The development of influenza vaccines has so far been largely based on empirical grounds, which leaves room for vaccine improvement by implementation of recent insights in innate and adaptive immunity. Also, evaluation and approval of new vaccines rely on rather broad correlates of protection such as the hemagglutination inhibition titre, thereby neglecting qualitative aspects of the immune response. Here we discuss how current inactivated influenza vaccine formulations differ in the type of immune response they elcit, their protective capacity, and what causes these differences. Finally, we will discuss how this knowledge can guide the development of new adjuvants that optimize the protective efficacy of influenza vaccines.