While HIV-1-specific cellular immunity is thought to be critical for the suppression of viral replication, the correlates of protection have not yet been determined. Rhesus macaques (RM) are an important animal model for the study and development of vaccines against HIV/AIDS. Our laboratory has helped to develop and study DNA-based vaccines in which recent technological advances, including genetic optimization and in vivo electroporation (EP), have helped to dramatically boost their immunogenicity. In this study, RMs were immunized with a DNA vaccine including individual plasmids encoding SIV gag, env, and pol alone, or in combination with a molecular adjuvant, plasmid DNA expressing the chemokine ligand 5 (RANTES), followed by EP. Along with standard immunological assays, flow-based activation analysis without ex vivo restimulation and high-throughput gene expression analysis was performed. Strong cellular immunity was induced by vaccination which was supported by all assays including PBMC microarray analysis that identified the up-regulation of 563 gene sequences including those involved in interferon signaling. Furthermore, 699 gene sequences were differentially regulated in these groups at peak viremia following SIVmac251 challenge. We observed that the RANTES-adjuvanted animals were significantly better at suppressing viral replication during chronic infection and exhibited a distinct pattern of gene expression which included immune cell-trafficking and cell cycle genes. Furthermore, a greater percentage of vaccine-induced central memory CD8+ T-cells capable of an activated phenotype were detected in these animals as measured by activation analysis. Thus, co-immunization with the RANTES molecular adjuvant followed by EP led to the generation of cellular immunity that was transcriptionally distinct and had a greater protective efficacy than its DNA alone counterpart. Furthermore, activation analysis and high-throughput gene expression data may provide better insight into mechanisms of viral control than may be observed using standard immunological assays.