Resistance and susceptibility to the intestinal nematode Trichuris muris has been shown to be dependent upon the induction of T helper type 2 (Th2) or Th1 cells, respectively. This study demonstrates that in a normally resistant strain of mouse, i.e. BALB/K which mounts a dominant Th2 response, sub-threshold levels of infection (< 40 eggs) can survive and become sexually mature adult worms (10-20 adults). The immunological basis of this phenomenon was found to be a dramatically altered polarization of the CD4 response. The Th2-response characteristic of this strain of mouse infected with T. muris was shown to be significantly down-regulated as assessed by in vitro cytokine production [interleukin (IL)-4, IL-5 and IL-9]. In contrast, Th1 parameters of infection such as in vitro interferon-gamma production and the presence of parasite-specific IgG2a were greatly up-regulated in these mice.