The gills of the European lobster Homarus gammarus (L.) are susceptible to parasitization by the copepod Nicothoë astaci, the lobster louse. This copepod feeds on haemolymph of the host and can damage the gills, potentially affecting gaseous exchange capabilities. To investigate the host response to the parasite, haemolymph levels of total protein, haemocyanin, glucose and ammonia were quantified in adult lobsters carrying varying parasite loads. Parasite loads correlated positively with total haemolymph protein and haemocyanin concentrations but not with glucose or ammonia concentrations. The data suggest that lobsters with gills damaged by the feeding activities of N. astaci respond by producing higher levels of haemocyanin, which is both a key defence response and may compensate for their decreased respiratory functioning.