Trichomonas vaginalis, an ancient protist, colonizes the vaginal mucosa causing trichomonosis, a vaginitis that sometimes leads to severe health complications. Preparatory to colonization of the vagina is the adhesion to vaginal epithelial cells (VECs) by trichomonads. We hypothesized that VECs alter the gene expression to form a complex signalling cascade in response to trichomonal adherence. In order to identify the genes that are upregulated, we constructed a subtraction cDNA library after contact with parasites that is enriched for differentially expressed genes from the immortalized MS-74 VECs. Sixty cDNA clones were sequenced and to our knowledge for the first time, differentially regulated genes were identified in response to early trichomonal infection. The identified genes were found to encode functional proteins with specific functions associated with cell structure maintenance and extracellular matrix components, proinflammatory molecules and apoptosis. Semi-quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) confirmed expression of selected genes. Further, cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) protein expression was analysed using Western blot and immunofluorescence assays. Data suggest that p38 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase and tyrosine kinases play a role in COX-2 induction. Finally, T. vaginalis and Tritrichomonas foetus but not Pentatrichomonas hominis induce expression of COX-2. This is a first attempt at elucidating the basis of interaction of trichomonads with host cells and the corresponding host responses triggered by the parasites.