BALB/c mice inoculated with live Brugia malayi microfilariae (mf), or immunized with a soluble filarial extract (B. malayi Ag (BmA)), develop a pronounced Th2-like response over time. In contrast, single or repeated immunizations with a soluble Mycobacterium tuberculosis Ag preparation (purified protein derivative, PPD) stimulates a Th1, but not Th2 response (IFN-gamma >> IL-4, IL-5). To determine if the Th1 response to PPD can be modulated by the ongoing helminth-induced Th2 activity, mice were: 1) immunized simultaneously with BmA and PPD; 2) immunized first with BmA, then with PPD; or 3) inoculated with live mf and immunized with PPD at various times thereafter. Simultaneous immunization with both Ag had no effect on the Th response induced by PPD, i.e., it was strictly Th1. In contrast, establishment of a Th2 response by either inoculation of live mf or immunization with BmA before administration of PPD skewed the PPD-specific Th response such that IL-4 and IL-5 were produced in addition to IFN-gamma. IL-4 and IL-5 levels produced in response to PPD under these conditions were further elevated in vitro in the presence of neutralizing IFN-gamma. Finally, in vivo neutralization of IL-4 diminished induction of Th2 responses to PPD. These results demonstrate that ongoing Th2 responses to helminth Ag modulate the Th response to mycobacterial Ag by an IL-4 dependent mechanism.