Following the observation that live third-stage larvae (L3) could digest gelatin in vitro, gelatinolytic protease activity has been demonstrated at pH 8.5, in both exsheathing fluid (EF) and excretory/secretory (ES) products of infective L3 of Necator americanus. EF resolved as a single band of proteolytic activity, with a mol. wt of 116 kDa, while L3 ES products exhibited multiple bands of proteolysis, at 219, 200, 195, 166, 137, 92, 72 and 62 kDa; weak bands were detectable at 92 and 72 kDa. The EF protease was characterized as cysteine, whereas ES apparently possessed one serine (195 kDa) and seven (219, 200, 166, 137, 92, 72 and 62 kDa) cysteine protease bands and a combination of metallo- and cysteine proteases of approximately the same mol. wts (62, 137 and 219 kDa). Though EF was not able to cleave immunoglobulins, ES was shown to cleave IgG, IgA and IgM, but not IgD or IgE. The activity appeared to be directed toward the Fc portion of the molecule, and was inhibited by PMSF, which is indicative of serine protease activity. The significance of the presence of such apparently diverse proteases in larval products is discussed.