African swine fever (ASF) is a complex disease of swine, caused by a large DNA virus belonging to the family Asfarviridae. The disease shows variable clinical signs, with high case fatality rates, up to 100%, in the acute forms. ASF is currently present in Africa and Europe where it circulates in different scenarios causing a high socio-economic impact. In most affected regions, control has not been effective in part due to lack of a vaccine. The availability of an effective and safe ASFV vaccines would support and enforce control-eradication strategies. Therefore, work leading to the rational development of protective ASF vaccines is a high priority. Several factors have hindered vaccine development, including the complexity of the ASF virus particle and the large number of proteins encoded by its genome. Many of these virus proteins inhibit the host's immune system thus facilitating virus replication and persistence. We review previous work aimed at understanding ASFV-host interactions, including mechanisms of protective immunity, and approaches for vaccine development. These include live attenuated vaccines, and "subunit" vaccines, based on DNA, proteins, or virus vectors. In the shorter to medium term, live attenuated vaccines are the most promising and best positioned candidates. Gaps and future research directions are evaluated.