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Plasmodium falciparum malaria infection induces elevated blood levels of both total immunoglobulin and anti-plasmodial antibodies belonging to different isotypes. We have previously shown that donors living in areas of malaria transmission develop malaria-specific IgE antibodies that are present at highest concentrations in patients with severe disease, suggesting a role for this isotype in malaria pathogenesis. To establish the possible importance of IgE in the course and severity of this disease, we have analyzed a large and homogenous group of African children (age range = 6 months to 15 years) belonging to one ethnic group (Mossi) living in identical epidemiologic conditions in the same urban area (Ougadougo) of Burkina Faso. While IgG antibodies to P. falciparum increased to high concentrations in very young children and then remained at these levels in older patients, IgE antibodies increased with age, becoming most significantly elevated in children more than four years of age. In older children, those with severe malaria had significantly higher IgE antibody levels than those with non-severe disease. No significant differences between the patient groups were seen for IgG antibodies to P. falciparum. However, when the patients with severe malaria were divided into two groups distinguished by the presence of absence of coma, both IgG and IgE antibodies against malaria were lower in the comatous patients than in the non-comatous patients The results support the conclusion that IgE antibodies against malaria, regardless of their possible protectivity, also contribute to disease severity in this large and homogenous group of African children.