Expulsion of the gastro-intestinal nematode Trichinella spiralis is associated with a pronounced mastocytosis mediated by a T helper (Th) 2 type response involving interleukin (IL)-4 and IL-13. Here we demonstrate that IL-10 is a key regulator of protective immune responses against T. spiralis in vivo. IL-10 knockout mice or normal mice treated with a neutralizing anti-IL-10 receptor antibody are highly susceptible to a primary T. spiralis infection and show significantly delayed adult worm expulsion. Depletion of IL-10 resulted in elevated Th1 and Th2 cytokine responses but significantly reduced numbers of mucosal mast cells in the jejunum. Interestingly, the increase in IFN-gamma detected in the absence of IL-10 resulted in increased immunity to larval stages. Hence, IL-10 has a negative effect on immunity to the tissue dwelling larval stages of T. spiralis but plays a significant biological role as an in vivo regulator of intestinal mast cell responses and is crucially involved in protection against adult stages of intestinal parasites in vivo.