In our experimental study we were able to show that the contrasting outcome of Angiostrongylus costaricensis infection in C57BL/6 and BALB/c mice, in respect of morbidity and mortality, can be explained by divergent cellular immune responses and a different cytokine pattern in each strain. In BALB/c mice (i.e. those with high mortality), the initial high proliferation of ConA or LPS stimulated spleen cells dropped to very low levels after 2 weeks post-infection (p.i.), whereas in C57BL/6 mice (i.e. those with low mortality), only a minor reduction in lymphoproliferative responses after mitogenic stimulation was observed. The specific proliferation of spleen cells after stimulation with A. costaricensis adult worm antigen remained low in BALB/c mice throughout the experiment, but showed an augmented proliferation in C57BL/6 mice, especially from 2 weeks p.i. onwards. The mitogen-induced production of Th2-type cytokines (IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-10) in spleen cell cultures remained low in BALB/c mice until 4 weeks p.i., but production of Th1-type cytokines (IL-2, IFN-gamma) was highly elevated at 14 and 28 days p.i. In C57BL/6 mice, an upregulated and balanced production of both Th1- and Th2-type cytokines was measured during the course of infection. In summary, a polarization of the immune response towards cellular hyporesponsiveness and a predominantly Th1 cytokine profile was observed in A. costaricensis infected BALB/c mice, which may contribute to pathogenesis and increased morbidity.