The parasitic ciliate Ichthyophthirius multifiliis causes white spot disease in freshwater fish worldwide. The theront penetrates external surfaces of the naïve fish where it develops into the feeding trophont stage and elicits a protective immune response both at the affected site as well as at the systemic level. The present work compiles data and presents an overall model of the protective reactions induced. A wide spectrum of inflammatory reactions are established upon invasion but the specific protection is provided by adaptive factors. Immunoglobulin IgT is involved in protection of surfaces in several fish species and is thereby one of the first adaptive immune molecules reacting with the penetrating theront. IgT producing lymphocytes occur in epithelia, dispersed or associated with lymphoid cell aggregations (skin epidermis, fins, gills, nostrils and buccal cavities) but they are also present in central immune organs such as the head kidney, spleen and liver. When theronts invade immunized fish skin, they are encountered by host factors which opsonize the parasite and may result in complement activation, phagocytosis or cell‐mediated killing. However, antibody (IgT, IgM and IgD) binding to parasite cilia has been suggested to alter parasite behaviour and induce an escape reaction, whereby specific IgT (or other classes of immunoglobulin in fish surfaces) takes a central role in protection against the parasite.