Activation of cells from the innate immune system has an important role in host resistance to early infection with the intracellular protozoan parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi. Here we review the studies that have identified and structurally characterized the glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchors, as parasite molecules responsible for the activation of cells from the macrophage lineage. We also cover the studies that have identified the receptor, signaling pathways as well as the array of genes expressed in macrophages that are activated by these glycoconjugates. We discuss the possible-implications of such response on the host resistance to T. cruzi infection and the pathogenesis of Chagas disease. (C) 2002 Editions scientifiques et medicales Elsevier SAS. All rights reserved.