Canine sino-nasal aspergillosis is usually caused by Aspergillus fumigatus and is similar to human chronic erosive non-invasive fungal sinusitis. The pathogenesis of the disease is poorly understood. We investigated the nature of the local immune response mounted in canine sino-nasal aspergillosis. Quantitative RT-PCR was carried out on RNA isolated from nasal biopsies from diseased and control dogs, using specific assays designed to amplify mRNA encoding a panel of cytokines and chemokines. Canine sino-nasal aspergillosis was associated with significantly increased expression of mRNA encoding MCP-1, -2, -3 and -4, IL-8, IL-10, EL-18 and TNF-alpha relative to controls (P < 0.01) but there was no difference between groups with respect to IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-12, TGF-beta, and eotaxin-2 and -3. The up-regulation of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines related to the influx of phagocytic cells might account for the localisation of this infection to the upper respiratory tract. The up-regulation of the expression of the immunomodulatory cytokine IL-10 in nasal tissue from affected dogs might be important in limiting the extent of local tissue destruction, but might also account for the fact that infected dogs are generally unable to clear this infection spontaneously. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.