Résumé : The pathogenic role of the enteric parasite Blastocystis remains controversial. Recent studies have suggested that various subtypes (STs) found in human samples could be correlated to the presence or absence and variability of clinical manifestations, and that STs can differ with respect to drug sensitivity. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) techniques used to determine these STs are expensive and are usually restricted to research laboratory settings. This study evaluates the potential application of the inexpensive matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) technique to discriminate Blastocystis STs. A database of parasitic protein signatures was constructed for five Blastocystis STs, and the reference spectra were challenged with those from 19 axenic cultures of ST1, ST2, ST3, ST4 and ST8 and those from nine xenic liquid cultures of ST3 and ST4. Samples from axenic cultures were prepared using standard formic acid extraction and direct deposition procedures. The reference spectra revealed five distinct spectral profiles, and the database library allowed for discrimination between all of the cultures with reliability indices ranging from 2.038 to greater than 2.8 when an extraction was performed. The direct deposition procedure resulted in greater variability in the discrimination and direct MALDI-TOF MS identification from xenic liquid cultures was effective in 3 out of 9 samples. MALDI-TOF MS proved to be an effective technology for efficiently discriminating Blastocystis STs in axenic cultures. ? 2013 Springer-Verlag.