Neutral mucin oligosaccharides from the small intestine of control rats and rats infected with the parasite Nippostrongylus brasiliensis were released and analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Infected animals expressed seven blood group A-like structures that were all absent in the control animals. The blood group A nature of these epitopes was confirmed by blood group A reactivity of the prepared mucins, of which Muc2 was one. Transferase assays and Northern blotting on small intestines from infected animals showed that an alpha-N-acetylgalactosaminyltransferase similar to the human blood group A glycosyltransferase had been induced. The expression was a transient event, with a maximum at day 6 of the 13-day-long infection. The rat blood group A glycosyltransferase was cloned, revealing two forms with an amino acid similarity of 95%. Both types had blood group A transferase activity and were probably allelic because none of 12 analyzed inbred strains carried both types. The second type was found in outbred rats and in one inbred strain. First generation offspring of inbred rats of each type were heterozygous, further supporting the allelic hypothesis. The transient induction and the large allelic variation could suggest that glycosyltransferases are part of a dynamic system altering mucins and other glycoconjugates as a protecting mechanism against microbial challenges.