This study compared the immunological and biochemical responses of co-grazed Suffolk and Texel lambs to a natural gastrointestinal nematode infection. Variables analysed included serum pepsinogen, total protein, albumin, haematological variables and nematode-specific serum immunoglobulin activity, at 11, 14 and 17 weeks of age. At 17 weeks, randomly selected lambs were necropsied to determine worm burdens, nematode-specific mucosal abomasal and intestinal immunoglobulin activity. Nematode burden, faecal egg count and pepsinogen concentrations were significantly higher in Suffolks relative to Texels, at all 3 time-points investigated. Suffolks displayed significantly higher erythrocyte, total leukocyte, lymphocyte and neutrophil counts, mean cell volume and packed cell volume, than Texels (P<0·01). However, breed differences in eosinophil counts were not significant. While serum nematode-specific antibody activity levels were significantly higher (P<0·001) in Texels for all isotypes measured, antibody activity levels at a mucosal level were equivalent in both breeds. Correlation analysis of mucosal antibody levels and nematode variables highlighted a more consistent pattern of events in Texels, with more mucosal antibodies negatively correlated with FEC and worm burden, in comparison to Suffolks. In particular, an important role for mucosal IgE is proposed. In Texels, a significant and negative correlation was identified between IgE and faecal egg counts and worm burden (FEC: −0·48, P<0·005). This was not observed in Suffolks. The evidence suggests that susceptibility in Suffolks may be mediated through poor IgE affinity/avidity and/or through deficiencies in related mechanisms such as mast cell production, recruitment or activation.