Mucosal administration of Ags induces specific Abs in external secretions and systemic unresponsiveness termed oral or mucosal tolerance. The dominant response depends on the species studied, the nature, dose, frequency, route of Ag application, and the use of adjuvants. The temporal sequence of Ag exposure determines the quality of the ensuing immune response; although initial mucosal Ag exposure results in systemic T cell hyporesponsiveness, pre-existing systemic responses are refractory to the tolerizing effects of mucosal Ag encounter. Mucosal and systemic humoral responses may be induced concomitantly with diminished systemic T cell responses, thereby permitting Ab-mediated containment of mucosal Ags without stimulation of the systemic immune compartment. B cell Ig isotype switching and differentiation toward IgA production share common regulatory mechanisms with the suppression of T cells. Optimization of mucosal vaccination strategies has the potential for enhancing protective immune responses and suppressing systemic responses to autoantigens desirable for the treatment of autoimmune diseases. Copyright © 2007 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.