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Recombinant adenovirus serotype 5 (rAd5) vaccine vectors for human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and other pathogens have been shown to elicit antigen-specific cellular immune responses. Rare serotype rAd vectors have also been constructed to circumvent preexisting anti-Ad5 immunity and to facilitate the development of novel heterologous rAd prime-boost regimens. Here we show that rAd5, rAd26, and rAd48 vectors elicit qualitatively distinct phenotypes of cellular immune responses in rhesus monkeys and can be combined as potent heterologous prime-boost vaccine regimens. While rAd5-Gag induced primarily gamma interferon-positive (IFN-γ+) and IFN-γ+/tumor necrosis factor alpha+ (TNF-α+) T-lymphocyte responses, rAd26-Gag and rAd48-Gag induced higher proportions of interleukin-2+ (IL-2+) and polyfunctional IFN-γ+/TNF-α+/IL-2+ T-lymphocyte responses. Priming with the rare serotype rAd vectors proved remarkably effective for subsequent boosting with rAd5 vectors. These data demonstrate that the rare serotype rAd vectors elicited T-lymphocyte responses that were phenotypically distinct from those elicited by rAd5 vectors and suggest the functional relevance of polyfunctional CD8+ and CD4+ T-lymphocyte responses. Moreover, qualitative differences in cellular immune responses may prove critical in determining the overall potency of heterologous rAd prime-boost regimens.