We have measured cellular and humoral immune responses to short synthetic peptides representing epitopes of the malaria vaccine candidate antigen Pf155/RESA in a longitudinal, prospective study of clinical immunity to Plasmodium falciparum malaria in a cohort of 354 Gambian children aged 3-8 years. A significant association was observed between presence of antibodies to the 3' repeat region peptide (EENV)6 and resistance to clinical malaria. The prevalence of protective antipeptide antibodies varied significantly between different ethnic groups, suggesting that immune recognition of some Pf155/RESA epitopes may be genetically regulated. There was no obvious association between proliferative or interferon gamma responses to T cell epitopes of Pf155/RESA and resistance to malaria infection or disease. At an individual level, the presence of peptide-binding antibodies was associated with the induction of interleukin 4 messenger ribonucleic acid expression in T cells activated with the overlapping T cell epitope EENVEHDA(EENV)2. This suggests that measurement of interleukin 4 production by T cells may represent a functional assay for T helper activity.