The effect of dose and duration of immunizing infections of Heligmosomoides polygyrus on protection against homologous challenge was studied in female TO mice. Primary infections were terminated at various levels with pyrantel embonate (adult infections) or ivermectin (larval infections) and mice were then challenged with 500 infective larvae (L3). The level of protection to secondary challenge positively correlated with the intensity of the primary immunizing infection but truncation of larval infection produced significantly better protection than termination of the adult nematode infection. The duration of the primary larval infection (1–6 days) positively correlated with the level of protection to secondary challenge, antibody responses and the proportion of circulating eosinophils. Histological changes in the gastrointestinal tract, peripheral leucocytic changes and antibody responses of the mice to H. polygyrus adult somatic antigens indicate both a cellular and humoral basis of host immunity to secondary challenge. Although the TO mice are slow responders in that they harbour chronic infections, immunization by intramucosal killing of the larval stage produced strong protection against secondary challenge infection. The presence of dead immunogenic larval stages within the intestinal wall may well be an important factor, since it exposes the host to stage specific antigens at an appropriate location. The implications of the findings for the control of gastrointestinal nematode infections are also discussed.