Leucocyte populations were examined in normal and inflamed skin of sheep bred for resistance (R) or susceptibility (S) to bacterial fleece rot and the common sequela, body strike caused by the dipteran parasite Lucilia cuprina. No differences between R and S lines were found in numbers of neutrophils accumulating in acute inflammatory lesions induced by activated complement, leukotriene B4, interleukin (IL)-1 beta, tumour necrosis factor-alpha, IL-8 or endotoxin from Pseudomonas aeruginosa. T19+ (alpha gamma delta T cell subset) lymphocytes and eosinophils were more prevalent in skin of sheep from the S line whereas IgE+ cells were more prevalent in skin of sheep from the R line. In an unrelated population of sheep, animals with low fleece rot scores had more intense neutrophil migration into inflammatory lesions induced by all the mediators examined than did animals with high fleece rot scores. IgE+ cells were more prevalent in animals with low fleece rot scores, although in contrast to R and S lines, T19+ cells tended to be elevated in this group of animals. The results suggest that defence mechanisms associated with IgE+ cells in skin may play an important role in resistance to fleece rot and fly strike.