After the onset of parasite egg deposition, mice infected with the helminth Schistosoma mansoni mount strong Th2 cytokine responses in the absence of significant Th1 cytokine synthesis. To examine the basis of this immunoregulatory state, spleen or lymph node cells from schistosome-infected mice were stimulated with parasite-specific Ag and the supernatants tested for their capacity to suppress IFN-gamma synthesis by a Th1 cell line. Strong inhibition was observed that was neutralized by a mAb against IL-10, a cytokine previously shown to down-regulate Th1 cytokine synthesis. By means of ELISA measurements the production of IL-10 in schistosome infection was confirmed and shown to depend on CD4+ T cells. IL-10 synthesis stimulated by either mitogen or Ag was observed only at those stages of infection when Th2 response induction and Th1 cytokine down-regulation also occurred and was not detected in mice vaccinated with attenuated parasites. Moreover, the addition of the neutralizing anti-IL-10 mAb to Ag-stimulated spleen cell cultures from infected mice caused a dramatic augmentation in IFN-gamma synthesis. These findings suggest that IL-10 is responsible for the down-regulation of Th1 responses observed in schistosome infections, a phenomenon that may enable the parasite to escape potentially harmful cell-mediated responses.