The host immune response in onchocerciasis is believed to contribute to the clinical manifestations of infection. Mazzotti and chronic inflammatory reactions might be mediated by mechanisms involving specific IgE and reactivity of mast cells and basophils to the parasite antigens. In this report, we show that Onchocerca volvulus antigens are capable of inducing histamine release. Three types of extracts were prepared from the parasite: soluble total, surface, and cuticular collagen. Soluble extracts released histamine in all individuals with onchocerciasis at significantly higher levels (P < 0.05) than those found in endemic controls, but similar levels to those found in patients with mansonellosis. However, cuticular collagen induced significantly (P < 0.01) higher histamine release in patients with onchocerciasis than in those with mansonellosis. No reactivity against human type IV collagen was observed. Implications derived from the presence of sensitized basophils in the pathogenesis of onchocerciasis are discussed.