Schistosomiasis is one of the most prevalent, insidious and serious of the tropical parasitic diseases. Although the effective anthelmintic drug, praziquantel, is widely available and cheap, it does not protect against re-infection, drug-resistant schistosome may evolve and mass drug administration programmes based around praziquantel are probably unsustainable long term. Whereas protective anti-schistosome vaccines are not yet available, the zoonotic nature of Schistosoma japonicum provides a novel approach for developing a transmission-blocking veterinary vaccine in domestic animals, especially bovines, which are major reservoir hosts, being responsible for up to 90% of environmental egg contamination in China and the Philippines. However, a greater knowledge of schistosome immunology is required to understand the processes associated with anti-schistosome protective immunity and to reinforce the rationale for vaccine development against schistosomiasis japonica. Importantly as well, improved diagnostic tests, with high specificity and sensitivity, which are simple, rapid and able to diagnose light S. japonicum infections, are required to determine the extent of transmission interruption and the complete elimination of schistosomiasis following control efforts. This article discusses aspects of the host immune response in schistosomiasis, the current status of vaccine development against S. japonicum and reviews approaches for diagnosing and detecting schistosome infections in mammalian hosts.