Both theoretical arguments and empirical evidence suggest that parasite transmission depends on host density. In helminths with complex life cycles, however, it is not clear which host, if any, is the most important. Here, the relationships between the abundance of metacercariae in second intermediate hosts, and the local density of both the first and second intermediate hosts of two trematode species, are investigated. Samples of the snail Potamopyrgus antipodarum, the amphipod Paracalliope fluviatilis and the isopod Austridotea annectens were collected from ten stations in a New Zealand lake. In the trematode Coitocaecum parvum, neither the density of the snail first intermediate host nor that of the amphipod second intermediate host correlated with infection levels in amphipods. In contrast, in the trematode Microphallus, infection levels in isopod second intermediate hosts were positively associated with isopod density and negatively associated with the density of snail first intermediate hosts. These relationships are explained by a negative correlation between snail and isopod densities, mediated in part by their different use of macrophyte beds in the lake. Overall, the results suggest that, at least for Microphallus, local infection levels depend on local intermediate host densities.