Immunoglobulin E (IgE) mediates the immune response to parasites, but can also cause allergies. In humans maternal IgE is not transferred to cord blood and high levels of cord blood IgE are associated with subsequent allergy. In horses, both maternal IgG and IgE are transferred via colostrum; the IgE levels in the mare's serum, the colostrum and the foal's serum are correlated but the consequences of IgE transfer to foals are not known. By about 6 weeks of age the levels of IgE in foal serum have dropped to a nadir, at 6 months of age the level of IgE has risen only very slightly and is no longer correlated with the levels seen at birth, IgE(+) B-cells could be detected in lymphoid follicles of some foals at this age. Surprisingly, the levels of total IgE detected in a foals serum at 6 months of age are significantly correlated with the level in its serum at 1, 2 and even 3 years of age suggesting that by 6 months of age the foals are synthesizing IgE and that a pattern of relatively higher or lower total serum IgE has been established. The neonatal intestinal mucosa contained connective tissue mast cells which stained for bound IgE in foals up to 9 weeks of age but not mucosal mast cells, thereafter, the intestinal mast cells were IgE negative until 6 months of age. IgE antibodies to Culicoides nubeculosus salivary antigens were detected in Swiss born foals from imported Icelandic mares allergic to Culicoides spp. yet the foals showed no signs of skin sensitization and such second generation foals are known not to have an increased risk of developing allergy to Culicoides. Overall this evidence suggests there is a minimal effector role of maternal IgE also that maternal IgE has waned prior to the onset of IgE synthesis in foals and does not support maternal priming of IgE responses in foals. Furthermore the total levels of IgE in any given foal are seen to be relatively high or low from soon after the onset of IgE synthesis, and most likely they are determined by genetic factors.