The salivarian trypanosome Trypanosoma brucei infects mammals and is transmitted by tsetse flies. The mammalian 'bloodstream form' trypanosome has a variant surface glycoprotein coat and relies on glycolysis while the procyclic form from tsetse flies has EP protein on the surface and has a more developed mitochondrion. We show here that the mRNA for the procyclic-specific cytosolic phosphoglycerate kinase PGKB, like that for EP proteins, contains a regulatory AU-rich element (ARE) that destabilises the mRNA in bloodstream forms. The human HuR protein binds to, and stabilises, mammalian mRNAs containing AREs. Expression of HuR in bloodstream-form trypanosomes resulted in growth arrest and in stabilisation of the EP, PGKB and pyruvate, phosphate dikinase mRNAs, while three bloodstream-specific mRNAs were reduced in abundance. The synthesis and abundance of unregulated mRNAs and proteins were unaffected. Our results suggest that regulation of mRNA stability by AREs arose early in eukaryotic evolution.