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Mice were tolerant to tick bites during three infestations with nymphs of Ixodes ricinus infected with Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto. To determine whether tick bites influence the immune response against B. burgdorferi, we examined the production of cytokines IL-4 and IFN-gamma by lymph node cells of BALB/c mice and IL-4 deficient BALB/c mice after tick inoculation versus syringe inoculation of B. burgdorferi. We also measured IgG2a anti-borrelial antibodies and total IgE in these mice. Results showed that BALB/c mice developed a Th2 immune response against B. burgdorferi after tick inoculation and a mixed Th1/Th2 response after syringe inoculation of B. burgdorferi. IL-4 deficient mice produced a Th1 immune response in both cases. IL-4 produced following tick bites greatly decreased the production of anti-borrelial IgG2a antibodies by comparison with the production of anti-borrelial IgG2a antibodies produced following syringe injection of B. burgdorferi.