Infection with the cestode Echinococcus multilocularis causes human alveolar echinococcosis (AE), a life-threatening disease affecting primarily the liver. Despite the severity of AE, clinical symptoms often develop only many years after infection, which suggests that E. multilocularis has developed mechanisms which depress anti-parasite immune response, thus favouring immune evasion. In this study we examined the production of cytokines, chemokines and the expression of CD molecules on peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from AE patients and healthy controls in response to E. multilocularis metacestode culture supernatant, viable E. multilocularis vesicles and E. multilocularis vesicle fluid antigen in vitro. After 48 h of co-culture, E. multilocularis metacestode culture supernatant and E. multilocularis vesicles depressed the release of the proinflammatory cytokine interleukin (IL)-12 by PBMC. This effect was dose-dependent and a suppression of tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha and IL-12 was observed even when PBMC were activated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Comparing proinflammatory cytokine release by AE patients and controls showed that the release of IL-12 and TNF-alpha was reduced in AE patients, which was accompanied by an increased number of CD4+ CD25+ cells and a reduced release of the Th2 type chemokine CCL17 (thymus and activation regulated chemokine, TARC), suggesting an anti-inflammatory response to E. multilocularis metacestode in AE patients. Instead the production of interferon (IFN)-gamma and the expression of CD28 on CD4+ T cells were increased in PBMC from AE patients when compared to controls. This was accompanied by a higher release of the Th2-type chemokine CCL22 (macrophage derived chemokine, MDC) supporting that E. multilocularis also generates proinflammatory immune responses. These results indicate that E. multilocularis antigens modulated both regulatory and inflammatory Th1 and Th2 cytokines and chemokines. Such a mixed profile might be required for limiting parasite growth but also for reducing periparasitic tissue and organ damage in the host.