Blockage of pathogen transmission through water decontamination is considered an important strategy for the prevention of schistosome infection. Many believe that this strategy is feasible, but it has yet to be achieved. Silver has a long history of use as a disinfectant. With the emergence of nanotechnology, silver can be shaped into nanoparticles which have been found to possess superb antimicrobial activities. In this light, we investigated the effects of silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) on Schistosoma japonicum cercariae. AgNPs rapidly induced cercarial tail-shedding, agitated behaviour and a decrease in cercarial secretion in a dose-dependent manner. Prolonged treatment was found to be cercariocidal, which nevertheless might be attributable to AgNP-induced cercarial tail loss rather than to toxicity. Higher concentrations of AgNPs (125 μg mL−1 and above) completely blocked cercarial infectivity. Despite decreased infectivity, cercariae exposed to lower concentrations of AgNPs for 30 min were still found capable of infecting hosts even without their tails, suggesting that tail loss does not necessarily signify a total loss of infective ability. We also found that silver ions (Ag+) were heavily involved in the observed cercarial responses of AgNPs. Our observations provide insight into the interactions between the larvae of helminth parasites and nanoparticles.