The cross-linking of effector cell-bound IgE antibodies by allergens induces the release of inflammatory mediators which are responsible for the symptoms of allergy. We demonstrate that a recombinant hybrid molecule consisting of the major birch (Bet v 1) and grass (Phl p 5) pollen allergen exhibited reduced allergenic activity as compared to equimolar mixes of the isolated allergens in basophil activation experiments. The reduced allergenic activity of the hybrid was not due to reduced IgE reactivity as demonstrated by IgE binding experiments using sera from allergic patients. Physicochemical characterization of the hybrid by size exclusion chromatography, dynamic light scattering, negative-stain electron microscopy and circular dichroism showed that the hybrid occurred as folded aggregate whereas the isolated allergens were folded monomeric proteins. IgG antibodies raised in rabbits against epitopes of Bet v 1 and Phl p 5 showed reduced reactivity with the hybrid compared to the monomeric allergens. Our results thus demonstrate that aggregation can induce changes in the conformation of allergens and lead to the reduction of allergenic activity. This is a new mechanism for reducing the allergenic activity of allergens which may be important for modifying allergens to exhibit reduced side effects when used for allergen-specific immunotherapy.