The 4 species of ruminants (dromedary, zebu cattle, sheep and goat) in arid areas of Mauritania harboured Haemonchus spp. as the most frequent internal parasite. This was a rare situation where the 3 putative species, H. longistipes (dromedary), H. placet (zebu cattle) and H. contortus (sheep and goat) occurred sympatrically. The study was undertaken on hosts slaughtered at the Nouakchott abattoir, on the basis of monthly collection of worms. The environment was very unfavourable to H. placei and unfavourable to H. contortus, as intensity of infection remained low throughout the year, whereas infection in the dromedary was 10 to 20-fold higher. The survival strategies during the long, dry season were different: the surviving stages were either 4th-stage larvae in digesta (dromedaries), 4th-stage larvae either in digesta or mucosae (cattle), or 4th-stage larvae in mucosae and few adults (sheep and goats). The prolificacy of female worms, indicative of the potential to contaminate pastures, was similar for all Haemonchus spp. in the rainy season. H. longistipes behave differently during the pre-rainy season as no increase of prolificacy could be demonstrated as observed in the other species. Traits of vulvar morphology are considered as markers of ecological adaptation and were studied. The knobbed and smooth female morphs (in equal proportions) were the most frequent in H. longistipes, the knobbed morph out-numbered the other morphs in H. placei, and all 3 morphs were present in sheep and goats with the linguiform form being predominant. Genetic characterization of the 3 species was performed by means of Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA (RAPD). Three groups were obtained from analysis of these data: 1 group with individuals of H. contortus, 1 group with individuals of H. placei, and 1 group with individuals of H. longistipes. This indicated that, although the 3 species were valid, H. contortus and H. placei were more similar. Intraspecific variability was 2-fold higher in H. contortus than in the 2 other species. The ecological, morphological and genetical studies showed that H. longistipes, H. placei and H. contortus could be arranged in increasing order of variability.