The diversity and abundance of parasites vary widely among populations of the same host species. These infection parameters are, to some extent, determined by characteristics of the host population or of its habitat. Recent studies have supported predictions derived from epidemiological models regarding the influence of host population density: parasite abundance and parasite species richness are expected to increase with increasing host population density, at least for directly transmitted parasites. Here, we test this prediction using a natural system in which populations of the crucian carp, Carassius carassius (L.), occur alone, with no other fish species, in a series of 9 isolated ponds in Finland. The ectoparasite communities in these fish populations consist of only 4 species of monogeneans (Dactylogyrus formosus, D. wegeneri, D. intermedius and Gyrodactylus carassii); the total and relative abundance of these 4 species varies among ponds, with one or two of the species missing from certain ponds. Across ponds, only one factor, total fish population size, explained a significant portion of the variance in both the mean number of monogenean species per fish and the mean total abundance of monogenean individual per fish. In contrast, fish population density did not influence either monogenean abundance or species richness, and neither did any of the other variables investigated (mean fish length per pond, number of fish examined per pond, distance to the nearest lake, and several water quality measures). In our system, proximity among fish individuals (i.e. host population density) may not be relevant to the proliferation of monogeneans; instead, the overall availability of host individuals in the host population appeared to be the main constraint limiting parasite population growth.