Individuals, residing in a region highly endemic for Trichuris trichiura, were examined for cytokine and proliferative responses to T. trichiura worm homogenate (TtAg), T. trichiura excretory/ secretory products (TtES) and the equivalent antigenic preparations from the murine whipworm, Trichuris muris. Serum antibody levels against TtAg, T. muris worm homogenate and T. muris ES products were also studied. Measurable levels of immunoglobulin (Ig)G1, IgG4, IgA and IgE against T. muris antigens were detected, indicating a degree of conservation of epitopes between antigens derived from both species. Although levels of interleukin (IL)-4, IL-10, IL-13, tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α and proliferative responses produced were comparable between homogenate antigens of either species and ES antigens of either species, a markedly different cellular response was observed in cultures stimulated with homogenate antigens compared to ES antigens. ES antigens preferentially induced IL-10 (P> 0.001) and TNF-α(P> 0.001) production, whereas levels of IL-4 (P> 0.001), IL-13 (P> 0.001) and proliferative responses (P> 0.001) were greater in cultures stimulated with whole worm extracts. Our findings suggest that T. muris preparations could be used as an alternative to T. trichiura proteins as a source of antigens in ex vivo cultures and that ES products stimulate a distinct immune response compared to somatic antigens.