The current authors examined whether mite and cat allergen and bacterial endotoxin levels in dust of the mothers' mattresses were associated with cord blood immunoglobulin (Ig)E (CB-IgE) levels in newborns. Data from 1,332 term and normal weight neonates, from an ongoing birth cohort study, influences of life-style related factors on the immune system and the development of allergies in childhood (LISA), with complete information on exposure to biocontaminants in mattress dust and CB-IgE were analysed. Two thirds of CB-IgE were undetectable (<0.35 kU x L(-1)). Thus, 0.35 and 0.45 kU x L(-1) (4th quartile) were chosen as cut-offs. Nonparametric smoothing (generalised additive models) showed statistically significant confounder-adjusted associations between elevated CB-IgE levels (> or = 0.45 kU x L(-1)) and log-transformed exposures to cat (linear), mite (inverse u-shaped), and endotoxin (u-shaped). After adjustment for covariables, elevated CB-IgE levels (logistic regression using the 1st-4th quartiles of exposure) were positively associated with high cat-allergen exposure and medium exposure to mite allergen, but were inversely associated with exposure to endotoxin. The associations were similar, but somewhat weaker, when 0.35 kU x L(-1) was used as cut-off. These results, showing an association between prenatal allergen and endotoxin exposures and immunoglobulin E production, suggest that the development of foetal immune responses may be affected.