The immune effector cells (hemocytes) of the snail host Biomphalaria glabrata are known to play a key role in recognition and elimination of larval helminths such as the human blood fluke Schistosoma mansoni. To identify novel immune-relevant genes, we undertook an expressed sequence tag program. A hemocyte cDNA library was constructed using snails that were not exposed to a particular pathogen or parasite but maintained in non-axenic conditions. Putative function could be assigned to 53% of the 1613 high quality cDNAs analysed. Based on sequence similarities, we identified 31 immune-relevant genes corresponding either to cellular defence effectors, proteases and protease inhibitors, pattern recognition receptors, cell adhesion molecules or immune regulators. In order to further investigate the potential involvement of these genes in snail-trematode immunobiological interactions, we analysed their expression in unchallenged and parasite-challenged snails, using the immunosuppressive trematode Echinostoma caproni and snail strains selected for resistance or susceptibility to this parasite. Real-time PCR analysis of expression ratios at 7 time-points post-exposure revealed both (i) genes displaying constitutive expression differences between the two strains; and (ii) genes differentially modulated after parasite exposure.