In this study, five different oil based adjuvants were compared to assess efficacy and side effects. Mice were injected subcutaneously (s.c.) or intraperitoneally (i.p.) with a weak immunogen (synthetic peptide) emulsified in Freund's adjuvant (FA), Specol, RIBI, TiterMax or Montanide ISA50. Efficacy of adjuvants was evaluated based on their properties to induce peptide specific IgGl, IgG2a and total lgG antibodies, native protein cross- reactive antibodies and cytokine production. Side effects were evaluated based on clinical and behavioural abnormalities, and (histo)pathological changes. Although marked differences in isotype profile and height of titre are observed among the different adjuvants used, we found that FA, Montanide ISA50 and Specol worked equally well in the s.c. and i.p. route, TiterMax functioned only when given i.p. and RIBI also did not perform up to par. The number of cytokine (interferon-gamma and interleukin-4) producing spleen cells was significantly higher after injection of RIBI compared with other adjuvants. Injection of FA or TiterMax resulted in severe pathological changes while after RIBI injection minimal changes were observed. In conclusion, high peptide specific antibody levels with limited side effects can be obtained by s.c. injection of peptide combined with Montanide ISA50 or Specol as alternatives to FA.