Allergenic mites are responsible for inducing hypersensitive reactions in genetically predisposed people worldwide. Mites in dust from 30 Irish homes with pets (dogs, n = 23; cats, n = 7) were compared with those in 30 homes without pets. House dust mites constituted 78% of all mites recorded, with Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (Acariformes: Pyroglyphidae) representing 57-72% of mites in furniture and mattresses in both home types compared with only 22% of mites in pet beds. Although storage mites accounted for just 13% of all mites recorded, they represented 46% of mites recorded in pet beds. Median levels of the dust mite allergen Der p 1 (mu g/g) in dust samples from mattresses in homes without pets were significantly greater than in mattresses from homes with pets, reflecting the greater densities of D. pteronyssinus found in the former home category. Mite species richness was greater in homes with pets (17 species) than in homes without pets (13 species). This suggests that although the presence of pets can result in a wider variety of epidemiologically important mite species within households, increased competition among mite species may result in a more balanced mite fauna in the home, inhibiting the dominance of any one species and hence lowering allergen-associated risks.