Intestinal infection continues to be a problem worldwide and helminths, which currently infect billions of individuals, are primary culprits. The major burden of disease falls on the populations of developing countries, given that over the last four to five decades helminth infections are disappearing in industrialized societies. In developing countries, a major source of immunomodulatory signals in post-natal life are parasites, particularly helminths, which, unlike most bacteria and viruses, selectively stimulate Th2 function. Helminths and their eggs are probably the most potent stimulators of mucosal Th2 responses. Responses elicited by worms can modulate immune reactions to other parasites, bacterial, viral infections and several unrelated diseases. Bacterial and protozoal infections may also protect against atopy and asthma, through the induction of the Th1 regulatory responses. Today, people in developed countries often live in ultra-hygienic environments, avoiding exposure to viruses, bacteria, ectoparasites and endoparasites, particularly helminths. Perhaps failure to acquire worms and experience mucosal Th2 conditioning predisposes to unrelated diseases. In contrast to this hypothesis it has also been suggested that Th2 responses can make the host more susceptible to other important diseases and to contribute to the spread of them.