Although the mechanisms underlying the host inflammatory response in ocular onchocerciasis have been examined, the role of particular parasite proteins in this process remains largely unexplored. Recently, it was found that one of the most abundant expressed sequence tags in Onchocerca volvulus infective larvae encoded a protein with similarities to a component of vespid venom. This clone was designated O. volvulus Activation associated Secreted Protein -1 (Ov-asp-1). We report the characterization of three members of a family of proteins, designated the Ov-ASP family, of which Ov-ASP-1 is a member. Sequence based and phylogenetic analyses suggest that these proteins form a filarial specific protein family related to both the vespid venom antigen 5 and the vertebrate CRISP/Tpx family of proteins. The three members of the Ov-ASP family exhibit distinct patterns of expression in the life cycle of O. volvulus. Genomic Southern blot analyses indicate that several genes encoding sequences related to the Ov-asp family are present in the genome of O. volvulus. Recombinant proteins expressed from full length cDNAs encoding two members of the Ov-asp family were found to induce an angiogenic response after injection into corneas of naive mice, and vessel formation was associated with only minor inflammatory cell infiltration. These data suggest that Ov-ASP proteins may directly induce an angiogenic response and may therefore contribute to corneal neovascularization in onchocercal keratitis.