We developed a new class of vaccines, based on killed but metabolically active (KBMA) bacteria, that simultaneously takes advantage of the potency of live vaccines and the safety of killed vaccines. We removed genes required for nucleotide excision repair (uvrAB), rendering microbial-based vaccines exquisitely sensitive to photochemical inactivation with psoralen and long-wavelength ultraviolet light. Colony formation of the nucleotide excision repair mutants was blocked by infrequent, randomly distributed psoralen crosslinks, but the bacterial population was able to express its genes, synthesize and secrete proteins. Using the intracellular pathogen Listeria monocytogenes as a model platform, recombinant psoralen-inactivated Lm ΔuvrAB vaccines induced potent CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses and protected mice against virus challenge in an infectious disease model and provided therapeutic benefit in a mouse cancer model. Microbial KBMA vaccines used either as a recombinant vaccine platform or as a modified form of the pathogen itself may have broad use for the treatment of infectious disease and cancer.