In schistosomiasis, the majority of symptoms of the disease is caused by the eggs that are trapped in the liver. These eggs elicit an immune reaction that leads to the formation of granulomas. The eggshell, which is a rigid insoluble structure built from cross-linked proteins, is the site of direct interaction between the egg and the immune system. However, the exact protein composition of the insoluble eggshell was previously unknown. To identify the proteins of the eggshell of Schistosoma mansoni we performed LC-MS/MS analysis, immunostaining and amino acid analysis on eggshell fragments. For this, eggshell protein skeleton was prepared by thoroughly cleaning eggshells in a four-step stripping procedure of increasing strength including urea and SDS to remove all material that is not covalently linked to the eggshell itself, but is part of the inside of the egg, such as Reynolds layer, von Lichtenberg's envelope and the miracidium. We identified 45 proteins of which the majority are non-structural proteins and non-specific for eggs, but are house-keeping proteins that are present in large quantities in worms and miracidia. Some of these proteins are known to be immunogenic, such as HSP70, GST and enolase. In addition, a number of schistosome-specific proteins with unknown function and no homology to any known annotated protein were found to be incorporated in the eggshell. Schistosome-specific glycoconjugates were also shown to be present on the eggshell protein skeleton. This study also confirmed that the putative eggshell protein p14 contributes largely to the eggshell. Together, these results give new insights into eggshell composition as well as eggshell formation. Those proteins that are present at the site and time of eggshell formation are incorporated in the cross-linked eggshell and this cross-linking does no longer occur when the miracidium starts secreting proteins. (C) 2011 Australian Society for Parasitology Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.