Background During the last years the quantification of immune response under immunological challenges, e.g. parasitation, has been a major focus of research. In this context, the expression of immune response genes in teleost fish has been surveyed for scientific and commercial purposes. Despite the fact that it was shown in teleostei and other taxa that the gene for beta-actin is not the most stably expressed housekeeping gene (HKG), depending on the tissue and experimental treatment, the gene has been us Results To establish a reliable method for the measurement of immune gene expression in Gasterosteus aculeatus, sequences from the now available genome database and an EST library of the same species were used to select oligonucleotide primers for HKG, in order to perform quantitative reverse-transcription (RT) PCR. The expression stability of ten candidate reference genes was evaluated in three different tissues, and in five parasite treatment groups, using the three algorithms BestKeeper, geNorm and N Conclusion As they were the most stably expressed genes in all tissues examined, we suggest using the genes for the L13a ribosomal binding protein and ubiquitin as alternative or additional reference genes in expression analysis in Gasterosteus aculeatus.