Nearly a century has passed since the first report describing antigen-specific immunotherapy (antigen-SIT) was published. Research into the use of antigen-SIT in the treatment of both allergic and autoimmune disease has increased dramatically since, although its mechanism of action is only slowly being unravelled. It is clear though, from recent studies, that success of antigen-SIT depends on the induction of regulatory T (T reg) cell subsets that recognise potentially disease-inducing epitopes. The major challenge remaining for the widespread use of antigen-SIT is to safely administer high doses of immunodominant and potentially pathogenic epitopes in a manner that induces T cell tolerance rather than activation. This review illustrates that intelligent design of treatment agents and strategies can lead to the development of safe and effective antigen-SIT.