Despite the increasing knowledge of the immunobiology and epidemiology of parasitic helminths of the gastrointestinal system and the cardiorespiratory system, complications arising from infections of animals and humans with these parasites are a major clinical and economic problem. This has been attributed to the high incidence of these parasites, the widespread emergence of multi-drug resistant parasite strains and the lack of effective vaccines. Efforts to develop and produce vaccines against virtually all helminths (with the exception of Dictyocaulus viviparus and some cestode species) have been hindered by the complexity of the host-parasite relationship, and incomplete understanding of the molecular and immune regulatory pathways associated with the development of protective immunity against helminths. Novel genomic and proteomic technologies have provided opportunities for the discovery and characterisation of effector mechanisms and molecules that govern the host-parasite interactions in these two body systems. Such knowledge provided clues on how appropriate and protective responses are elicited against helminths and, thus, may lead to the development of effective therapeutic strategies. Here, we review advances in the immune response to selected helminths of animal health significance, and subsequent vaccine potential. The topics addressed are important for understanding how helminths interact with host immune defences and also are relevant for understanding the pathogenesis of diseases caused by helminths.