BACKGROUND: Novel vaccine candidates against Schistosoma japonicum are required, and antigens present in the vulnerable larval developmental stage are attractive targets. Post-genomic technologies are now available which can contribute to such antigen discovery. METHODS: A schistosome-specific protein microarray was probed using the local antibody response against migrating larvae. Antigens were assessed for their novelty and predicted larval expression and host-exposed features. One antigen was further characterised and its sequence and structure were analysed in silico. Real-time polymerase chain reaction was used to analyse transcript expression throughout development, and immunoblotting and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays employed to determine antigen recognition by antibody samples. RESULTS: Several known and novel antigens were discovered, two of which showed up-regulated transcription in schistosomula. One novel antigen, termed S. japonicum Ly-6-like protein 1 (Sj-L6L-1), was further characterised and shown to share structural and sequence features with the Ly-6 protein family. It was found to be present in the worm tegument and expressed in both the larval and adult worms, but was found to be antigenic only in the lungs that the larvae migrate to and traverse. CONCLUSIONS: This study represents a novel approach to vaccine antigen discovery and may contribute to schistosome vaccine development against this important group of human and veterinary pathogens.