Immune responses to the intracellular Wolbachia bacteria of filarial nematodes are thought to contribute to the pathologic process of filarial infection. Here, we compare antibody responses of subjects living in an area where lymphatic filariasis is endemic with antibody responses elicited in a murine model of filarial infection, to provide evidence that the infective larval stage (L3), not adult nematodes, are the primary inducer of responses against Wolbachia. In human subjects, antibody responses to Brugia malayi Wolbachia surface protein (WSP) are most often correlated with antibody responses to the L3 stage of B. malayi. Analysis of anti-WSP responses induced in mice by different stages of the rodent filariae Litomosoides sigmodontis shows that the strongest anti-WSP response is elicited by the L3 stage. Although adult filarial nematode death may play a role in the generation of an anti-WSP response, it is the L3 stage that is the major source of immunogenic material, and incoming L3 provide a continual boosting of the anti-WSP response. Significant exposure to the endosymbiotic bacteria may occur earlier in nematode infection than previously thought, and the level of exposure to infective insect bites may be a key determinant of disease progression.