Cryptosporidium parvum, an Apicomplexan parasite of the mammalian gut epithelium, causes a diarrheal illness in a wide range of hosts and is transmitted by contamination of food or water with oocyst-laden feces from an infected animal. We have identified a glycosyl-inositol phospholipid from the sporozoite stage of the parasite that is frequently recognized by serum antibodies from human cryptosporidiosis patients. The humoral immune response is dominated by IgG(1) subclass antibodies but can also include IgA and IgM antibodies. The glycosylinositol phospholipids were purified by butanol extraction of a Triton X-114-soluble fraction followed by octyl-Sepharose column chromatography and preparative high performance TLC and were shown to include at least 5 species. By using mass spectrometry and radiolabeled neutral glycan analysis, we found that the structure of the dominant glycosylinositol phospholipid antigen contained a C18:0 lyso-acylglycerol, a C16:0-acylated inositol, and an unsubstituted mannose(3)-glucosamine glycan core. Other diacyl species were also identified, most notably a series of glycosylinositol phospholipids having an acyl-linked C20:0 to C28:0 lipid on the inositol ring. Less abundant species having three acyl-linked fatty acids and species with an additional 1-3 hexoses linked to the mannose core were also observed. We are currently working to determine the role that these glycolipids may play in the development of disease and in the clearance of infection.