Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a cancer treatment with a long-standing history. It employs the application of nontoxic components, namely a light-sensitive photosensitizer and visible light, to generate reactive oxygen species (ROS). These ROS lead to tumor cell destruction, which is accompanied by the induction of an acute inflammatory response. This inflammatory process sends a danger signal to the innate immune system, which results in activation of specific cell types and release of additional inflammatory mediators. Activation of the innate immune response is necessary for subsequent induction of the adaptive arm of the immune system. This includes the priming of tumor-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) that have the capability to directly recognize and kill cells which display an altered self. The past decades have brought increasing appreciation for the importance of the generation of an adaptive immune response for long-term tumor control and induction of immune memory to combat recurrent disease. This has led to considerable effort to elucidate the immune effects PDT treatment elicits. In this review we deal with the progress which has been made during the past 20 years in uncovering the role of PDT in the induction of the tumor-specific immune response, with special emphasis on adaptive immunity.