Alternatives to chemicals for controlling parasites are required to minimise problems from resistance, residues in animal products and occupational exposure. Utilisation of host response to parasites through selection of resistant types or vaccination is an appealing option. To date most studies have been with haematophagous or invasive parasites which directly contact elements of the host immune system. Sheep lice (Bovicola ovis) feed superficially on the skin of sheep ingesting lipid, scurf, bacteria and loose stratum corneum squames. Evidence is presented that despite their surface feeding habit Bovicola ovis stimulate an immune response in sheep and that this response may play a part in regulating the size of louse populations.