During infection with Schistosoma mansoni the egg stage of this parasite modulates the initial T helper (Th1) response into a Th2 response. This suggests that schistosome eggs contain factors responsible for that effect. We have recently described a glycoprotein (IPSE) from S. mansoni eggs that has a potent IL-4-inducing effect on human basophils. Here we demonstrate that IPSE is identical to a previously described molecule, the S. mansoni egg antigen alpha-1. We furthermore show that the expression of IPSE/alpha-1 at the level of both mRNA and protein is restricted to the egg stage. IPSE/alpha-1 is produced in and released from the subshell area of the egg and comes into close contact with inflammatory cells recruited to the vicinity of the egg surface. In line with this IPSE/alpha-1 is one of three major S. mansoni egg glycoproteins that induce pronounced antibody responses. Its IL-4-inducing capacity, moreover, suggests that IPSE/alpha-1 plays a role in initiating the Th2 response induced by patent S. mansoni infections.