Insect bite hypersensitivity (IBH) is an allergic dermatitis of the horse caused by bites of insects of the genus Culicoides and is currently the best characterized allergic disease of horses. This article reviews knowledge of the immunopathogenesis of IBH, with a particular focus on the causative allergens. Whereas so far hardly any research has been done on the role of antigen presenting cells in the pathogenesis of IBH, recent studies suggest that IBH is characterized by an imbalance between a T helper 2 (Th2) and regulatory T cell (T(reg)) immune response, as shown both locally in the skin and with stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Various studies have shown IBH to be associated with IgE-mediated reactions against salivary antigens from Culicoides spp. However, until recently, the causative allergens had not been characterized at the molecular level. A major advance has now been made, as 11 Culicoides salivary gland proteins have been identified as relevant allergens for IBH. Currently, there is no satisfactory treatment of IBH. Characterization of the main allergens for IBH and understanding what mechanisms induce a healthy or allergic immune response towards these allergens may help to develop new treatment strategies, such as immunotherapy.