Cryptosporidium parvum is a zoonotic protozoan parasite having peculiarities among the apicomplexa that could be responsible for its resistance to some drugs and disinfectants against coccidia. The awareness of Cryptosporidium as a health problem in man and animal is increasing and potent drugs are urgently needed. Curcumin, a natural polyphenolic compound, has been found to be active against a variety of diseases including anticarcinogenic, antimicrobial, and antiprotozoal effects. We investigated the effects of curcumin on infectivity and development of C. parvum in a recently established in vitro system combining infection of human ileocecal adenocarcinoma cell cultures with quantification of intracellular parasites by quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Curcumin was found to be effective (>95% inhibition of parasite growth) at 50 microM for 24 h when infected cultures were exposed for more than 12 h. Withdrawal of curcumin after 24 h of exposure did not result in a significant resumption of C. parvum growth. The invasion of host cells by sporozoites (infectivity) was found to be inhibited at least 65% in the presence of 200 microM curcumin. No significant reduction of viability of C. parvum oocysts after incubation with curcumin was recorded. Altogether, curcumin showed promising anticryptosporidial effects under in vitro conditions and deserves further exploration.