There is considerable interest in the development and evaluation of approaches for the safety assessment of novel foods, and in particular in methods for characterisation of allergenic potential. One strategy that has found favour is a tiered approach in which the potential of novel proteins to induce allergic sensitisation is assessed based on considerations of stability of the protein in a simulated gastric juice and homology with, or structural similarity to, known allergens. Linked to such an approach may be evaluation of serological identity with proteins known to cause allergic disease. With the aim of supplementing such approaches with a more direct measurement of potential allergenic activity, attempts have been made to characterise the quality of immune responses elicited in BALB/c strain mice. Such evaluations comprise measurement of IgG and IgE antibody production and (to a lesser extent) of induced cytokine expression patterns. Investigations to date suggest that in mice proteins provoke variable immune responses, those with the potential to cause allergic sensitisation stimulating IgE (and IgG) antibody production. In contrast, non-allergenic, but nevertheless immunogenic, proteins are associated with IgG antibody responses in the absence of marked IgE production. Consistent with the selective activation of selective type 2 T lymphocyte responses, exposure of mice to allergenic protein is associated with preferential expression of IL-4, -5, -10 and -13. Collectively these data suggest that characterisation of the nature of immune response induced in mice by proteins may provide a useful adjunct or alternative to current strategies for the assessment of allergenic potential.