A pleomorphic neoplasm (PN) is described from sections of Onchocerca volvulus worms in nodules excised from Cameroonian patients. PN is confined to older, non-fecund, female worms, and those classed as moribund/dead. It is mainly composed of small, roundish, basophilic cells of diverse sizes, often forming a ‘rosette’ pattern around amorphous eosinophilic centres. The cells have a high nuclear/cytoplasmic ratio and up to 2–3 mitoses/high-power field; some become grossly enlarged, highly polymorphic and contain large, irregular blocks of chromatin. The eukaryotic PN cells first appear posteriorly in the pseudocoelom, probably from ovarian cells; they spread anteriorly, invading or compressing the uteri. Ivermectin treatment increased the prevalence PN from 3.7% of 1422 female worms in 637 patients before treatment to 17.5% of 1134 worms in 511 patients after 3 years treatment. Ivermectin at 400–800 μg/kg annually, or at 150 μg/kg or 400–800 μg/kg 3-monthly, over 3 years, did not increase the PN prevalence significantly, as compared with standard doses of 150 μg/kg annually. In other small series of African patients, PN prevalence increased in worms 2, 4, 6 and 10 months after ivermectin treatment; but there was no increase after treatment with amocarzine, albendazole or diethylcarbamazine and suramin. PN may partly account for the increased macrofilaricidal action of ivermectin on female O. volvulus in patients treated for 3 years at 3-monthly intervals.