The malaria parasite is the most important member of the Apicomplexa, a large and highly successful phylum of intracellular parasites. Invasion of host cells allows apicomplexan parasites access to a rich source of nutrients in a niche that is largely protected from host defenses. All Apicomplexa adopt a common mode of host-cell entry, but individual species incorporate unique features and utilize a specific set of ligand-receptor interactions. These adhesins ultimately connect to a parasite actin-based motor, which provides the power for invasion. While some Apicomplexa can invade many different host cells, the disease-associated blood-stage form of the malaria parasite is restricted to erythrocytes.