The protozoan parasite Giardia lamblia is an important causative agent of acute or chronic diarrhoea in humans and various animals. During infection, the parasite survives the host's reactions by undergoing continuous antigenic variation of its major surface antigen, named VSP (variant surface protein). The VSPs form a unique family of cysteine-rich proteins that are extremely heterogeneous in size. The relevance of antigenic variation for the survival in the host has been most successfully studied by performing experimental infections in a combined mother/offspring mouse system and by using the G. lamblia clone GS/M-83-H7 (human isolate) as model parasite. In-vivo antigenic variation of G. lamblia clone GS/M-83-H7 is characterised by a diversification of the intestinal parasite population into a complex mixture of different variant antigen types. It could be shown that maternally transferred lactogenic anti-VSP IgA antibodies exhibit cytotoxic activity on the Giardia variant-specific trophozoites in suckling mice, and thus express a modulatory function on the proliferative parasite population characteristics. Complementarily, in-vitro as well as in-vivo experiments in adult animals indicated that non-immunological factors such as intestinal proteases may interfere into the process of antigen variation in that they favour proliferation of those variant antigen-type populations which resist the hostile physiological conditions within the intestine. These observations suggest that an interplay between immunological and physiological factors, rather than one of these two factor alone, modulates antigenic diversification of a G. lamblia population within an experimental murine host and thus influences the survival rate and strategy of the parasite.