In this study parasite-specific antibody, cellular reactivity and Thl-type or Th2-type cytokine responses were investigated in humans concurrently infected with Necator americanus and Oesophagostomum bifurcum. The prospects for O. bifurcum-specific serodiagnosis based on IgG4 and IgE were evaluated. IgG4 showed low specificity for O. bifurcum due to antigen cross-reactivity with N. americanus, while IgE specifically distinguished between hookworm and O. bifurcum, and, in doubly infected patients, levels of O. bifurcum-specific as well as N. americanus-specific IgE were significantly elevated compared to those with N. americanus mono-infections. Cellular immunity was not strictly dominated by a Thl- or Th2- type reactivity. In co-infected patients cellular unresponsiveness to parasite antigens was observed, while cellular production of tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) and gamma-interferon (IFN-gamma) was greater in those doubly infected. Th2-type cytokines (interleukin-5 and interleukin-10) were produced in equal amounts by peripheral blood mononuclear cells from individuals with mono- and coinfections. Such mixed Thl-type and Th2-type immune responsiveness associated with persisting gastrointestinal parasitic nematodes may reflect a state of infection at which parasite-induced inflammatory and enteropathogenic responses co-exist, and furthermore, helminth coinfection will not only suppress parasite-specific cellular responsiveness but may also direct cytokine production towards a "permissive Th1-type cytokine profile" that favours parasite persistence.