Temperature was found to be a major factor affecting the development of Dipylidium caninum and the presence of a host reaction of adult Ctenocephalides felis felis to D. caninum. Adult fleas reared at 30-32 degrees C contained fully developed metacestodes when they emerged from their cocoons. However at lower temperatures, D. caninum could not complete development until the flea hosts had spent some time on their mammalian hosts. It was the surface temperature of the mammals (31-36 degrees C) and not the fleas' blood meals which resulted in the metacestodes completing their development. This development of D. caninum was therefore independent of the flea development. At 20 degrees C, a larger and more prolonged host reaction was mounted than at higher temperatures. The larval flea diet had a small effect on the subsequent cestode development and the adult fleas' reaction to it.