We recently described the inhibition of host B lymphocytes by Ixodes ricinus tick saliva. In this study, we characterized the factor responsible for this activity and examined the modulation of lipopolysaccharide (LPS)- and Borrelia burgdorferi outer surface protein (Osp)-induced proliferation of naive murine B lymphocytes by an enriched fraction of this factor. The B-lymphocyte inhibitory activity was destroyed by trypsin treatment, indicating that a proteinaceous factor was responsible for this activity. The removal of glutathione-S-transferase (GST) from tick salivary glands extracts (SGE) showed that this B-cell inhibitory protein (BIP) was not a GST. Gel filtration liquid chromatography indicated that BIP has a native molecular weight of approximately 18,000. An enrichment protocol, using a combination of anion-exchange and reverse-phase liquid chromatography, was established. BIP-enriched fractions did not suppress T-cell proliferation. Delayed addition of BIP-enriched fractions, up to 7 hr after LPS addition, inhibited the proliferation of isolated B cells. BIP-enriched fractions dramatically inhibited both OspA- and OspC-induced proliferation of isolated B cells. These results strongly suggest that BIP may facilitate B. burgdorferi transmission by preventing B-cell activation, and also highlights the potential of BIP as a therapeutic agent in B-cell maladies.