Control of Haemonchus placei, one of the most important cattle nematodes in Brazil, relies on the use of anthelmintics. However, there is a need for integrated control, which includes active immunization. The aim of this work was to assess the protection afforded to calves by immunization with adult H. placei extracts against a high-dose challenge infection, a condition frequently found in the tropics. Holstein calves aged 8-10 months were immunized four times with intestinal extracts (Group D) or with a Triton X-100-soluble fraction of adult H. placei (Group A), challenge-infected with 120,000 infective larvae and sacrificed 40 days later. Immunized animals had higher IgG titers than the controls against tested fractions after the 2nd immunization, peaking after the 4th. Sera from both immunized groups recognized bands of similar apparent mass in both antigenic preparations, some of which were similar in molecular weight to Haemonchus contortus antigens with known protective effect to sheep. Egg counts were 49% and 57% lower in Groups A and D than in controls, respectively. High levels of protection were observed in two of the four calves in Group D, as evidenced by very low worm numbers recovered at necropsy, absence of eggs in the uteri of the recovered females and reduced worm length. Group D animals also showed milder signs of anemia than the other infected animals. Results demonstrate that protection against homologous high-dose challenge can be achieved by immunizing calves with H. placei gut antigens. (C) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.