A genome-wide scan was performed to detect quantitative trait loci (QTL) for resistance to gastrointestinal parasites and ectoparasitic keds segregating in the free-living Soay sheep population on St. Kilda (UK). The mapping panel consisted of a single pedigree of 882 individuals of which 588 were genotyped. The Soay linkage map used for the scans comprised 251 markers covering the whole genome at average spacing of 15 cM. The traits here investigated were the strongyle faecal egg count (FEC), the coccidia faecal oocyst count (FOC) and a count of keds (Melophagus ovinus). QTL mapping was performed by means of variance component analysis so that the genetic parameters of the study traits were also estimated and compared with previous studies in Soay and domestic sheep. Strongyle FEC and coccidia FOC showed moderate heritability (h(2) = 0.26 and 0.22, respectively) in lambs but low heritability in adults (h(2) < 0. 10). Ked count appeared to have very low h 2 in both lambs and adults. Genome scans were performed for the traits with moderate heritability and two genomic regions reached the level of suggestive linkage for coccidia FOC in lambs (logarithm of the odds = 2.68 and 2.21 on chromosomes 3 and X, respectively). We believe this is the first study to report a QTL search for parasite resistance in a free-living animal population and therefore may represent a useful reference for similar studies aimed at understanding the genetics of hostparasite co-evolution in the wild. (c) 2006 Australian Society for Parasitology Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.