Galectins are increasingly recognised as important immunological mediators of homeostasis and disease regulation. This paper gives an overview of current knowledge of galectin involvement in parasite infection and allergic inflammation, two very different but immunologically linked phenomena. Galectins are produced by both the parasite and the host and appear to be intimately involved in parasite establishment, as well as directing the course of infection and the immune response. Host galectins have also been shown to be active participants in the recruitment of cells to sites of inflammation and modulating the effector function of mast cells, neutrophils and eosinophils. Moreover, the ability of galectins to induce differential expression of cytokine genes in leukocytes suggests that they are able to direct the nature of an adaptive immune response, in particular towards a T2-type allergic response.