The role of stem cell factor (SCF) in the generation of intestinal mast cell hyperplasia and host protective immunity following helminth infection was investigated using the Trichinella spiralis/mouse model. In vivo administration of a monoclonal antibody specific for the receptor for SCF (c-kit) was found to completely prevent the generation of intestinal mastocytosis normally observed following T. spiralis infection. This was reflected by markedly reduced intestinal mast cell protease (IMCP) levels in both tissue and serum. Moreover, animals treated with anti-c-kit antibody failed to show any evidence of worm expulsion from the gut. The data demonstrate for the first time, a critical role for the SCF in the generation of mucosal mastocytosis and host protective immunity following an intestinal helminth infection.