Plasmid DNA, an effective vaccine vector, can induce both cellular and humoral immune responses. However, plasmid DNA raises issues concerning potential genomic integration after injection. This issue should be considered in preclinical studies. Tiantan vaccinia virus (TV) has been most widely utilized in eradicating smallpox in China. This virus has also been considered as a successful vaccine vector against a few infectious diseases. Potent T cell responses through T-cell receptor (TCR) could be induced by three injections of the DNA prime vaccine followed by a single injection of recombinant vaccinia vaccine. To develop a safer immunization strategy, a single DNA prime followed by a single recombinant Tiantan vaccinia (rTV) AIDS vaccine was used to immunize mice. Our data demonstrated that one DNA prime/rTV boost regimen induced mature TCR activation with high functional avidity, preferential T cell Vβ receptor usage and high sensitivity to anti-CD3 antibody stimulation. No differences in T cell responses were observed among one, two or three DNA prime/rTV boost regimens. This study shows that one DNA prime/rTV boost regimen is sufficient to induce potent T cell responses against HIV.