Genetic variation in host resistance to nematode infection was studied in two calf crops of Angus cattle under natural pasture challenge conditions in New Zealand, using faecal egg count (FEC) as a marker trait. Genetic and phenotypic correlations of FEC with anti-nematode antibody (Ab) level and live weights were also estimated. Ab to the third larval stages of Cooperia curticei (Cc), Cooperia oncophora (Co), Ostertagia ostertagi (Oo) and Trichostrongylus colubriformis (Tc) were assayed, along with Ab to the adult stages of Co and Oo. Calves were born in the late winter/early spring of 1995 and 1996 over a 7-week period each year; they were weaned at an average of 4 months of age, and faecal samples for FEC were taken at 10 months of age (1995 crop) and at 7 months of age (1996 crop). Blood samples for Ab were taken from both calf crops at intervals between 4 and 20 months of age, and later in peri-partum heifers and cows (23 to 25, and 36 to 37 months of age). For the two calf crops combined, there were 370 animals by 24 sires. Additional blood samples were taken on related animals from the 1993 and 1994 calf crops (218 extra animals, 19 different extra sires). The heritability of loge (FEC + 100) was 0•32 (s.e. 0•16), and heritabilities of loge Ab between 4 and 9 months of age averaged 0•30, between 11 and 20 months of age 0•22, and peri-partum 0•30. Between-animal repeatabilities of Ab levels from samples taken between 4 and 9 months of age averaged 0•40, between 11 and 20 months 0•48, and peri-partum 0•35. Genetic and phenotypic correlations among loge Abs for various nematode species (in hosts aged 4 to 9 months) averaged 0•82 and 0•61, respectively. The corresponding genetic and phenotypic correlations between loge Ab and loge(FEC + 100) averaged –0•48 and –0•07, respectively, whilst those between loge Ab and yearling weight averaged 0•29 and 0•13, respectively. It was concluded that direct selection to reduce FEC should be feasible if required, but index selection combining increased live weight and reduced FEC would often be preferable; anti-nematode Ab levels were repeatable, and FEC and Ab levels were negatively associated genetically.