The graft vs. leukemia (GvL) effect as a method of preventing relapse is well described after allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT), but the mechanisms to this effect and how tumor sometimes develops resistance to GvL are just beginning to be understood. This article reviews and expands upon data presented at the Third International Workshop on Biology, Prevention and Treatment of Relapse after Stem Cell Transplantation held in Hamburg, Germany, in November 2016. We first discuss in detail the role that T-cell impairment early after HCT plays in relapse by looking at data from T cell-depleted approaches as well as the clear role that early T-cell recovery has shown in improving outcomes. We then review key findings regarding the role of specific KIR donor/recipient pairings that contribute to relapse prevention after HCT for several tumor types. Finally, we discuss a unique mouse model following the development of tumor resistance to GvL. Detailed molecular characterization of events marking the development of tumor resistance to the immunotherapy of GvL may help in developing future strategies to overcome immune escape.