Twenty-four shed-reared lambs were each infected orally with 250 metacercariae of Fasciola hepatica, using either the triclabendazole (TCBZ)-sensitive Cullompton isolate or the TCBZ-resistant Sligo isolate. Twelve weeks after infection the lambs were treated with TCBZ (10 mg/kg) or with the experimental fasciolicide, Compound Alpha (Cpd alpha), a benzimidazole derivative of TCBZ (15 mg/kg). The lambs were euthanised 48,72 and 96 h after TCBZ treatment, or 24, 48 and 72 h after Cpd a treatment, and flukes were collected from the liver and/or gall bladder of each animal. Untreated animals harbouring 12-week infections were euthanised 24 h after administration of anthelmintic to the treatment groups, and the untreated flukes provided control material. A semi-quantitative assessment of the degree of histological change induced by the two drugs after different times of exposure was achieved by scoring the intensity of three well-defined lesions that developed in the testes and uteri of a representative sample of flukes from each lamb. In general, it was found that in those tissues where active meiosis and/or mitosis occurred (testis, ovary, and vitelline follicles), there was progressive loss of cell content due to apparent failure of cell division to keep pace with expulsion of the mature or effete products. Further, actively dividing cell types tended to become individualised, rounded and condensed, characteristic of apoptotic cell death. Protein synthetic activity was apparently inhibited in the Mehlis' secretory cells. In the uterus, where successful formation of shelled eggs represents the culmination of a complex sequence of cytokinetic, cytological and synthetic activity involving the vitelline follicles, the ovary and the Mehlis' gland, histological evidence indicating failure of ovigenesis was evident from 24 h post-treatment onwards. The development of these lesions may be related to the known antitubulin activity of the benzimidazole class of anthelmintics, to the induction of apoptosis in cells where mitosis or meiosis has aborted due to failure of spindle formation, and to drug-induced inhibition of protein synthesis. The semi-quantitative findings indicated that Cpd a is slightly less efficacious than TCBZ itself in causing histological damage to the reproductive structures of TCBZ-sensitive flukes, and that, like TCBZ, it caused no histological damage in flukes of the TCBZ-resistant isolate. This study illustrates the potential utility of histological techniques for conveniently screening representative samples of flukes in field trials designed to validate instances of drug resistance or to test the efficacy of new products against known drug-resistant and drug-susceptible fluke isolates. It also provides reference criteria for drug-induced histopathological changes in fluke reproductive structures which may aid interpretation of TEM findings. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.