Although the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (MPTP) is associated with cellular apoptosis and necrosis, its effect in host response to Eimeria infections is not well understood. In an effort to better understand the effect of MPTP on apoptosis in Eimeria tenella host cells, an MPTP inhibitor (cyclosporin A) was used to inhibit MPTP opening in vitro. Cecal epithelial cells from chick embryos, which were either treated or non-treated with cyclosporin A, were used as Eimeria tenella host cells. In addition, primary chick embryo cecum epithelial cell culture techniques and flow cytometry were used to detect the dynamic changes in MPTP opening, mitochondrial transmembrane potential, and cell apoptosis rate of Eimeria tenella host cells. Compared with the control group, cytometric techniques showed that untreated host cells exhibited a significantly higher (P < 0.01) degree of MPTP opening but lower (P < 0.01 or P < 0.05) mitochondrial transmembrane potential. Moreover, untreated group cells had less apoptosis (P < 0.01) at 4 h and more apoptosis (P < 0.05 or P < 0.01) at 24 to 120 h as compared with control group cells. After the application of cyclosporin A, the degree of MPTP opening in the treated group was significantly lower (P < 0.01) at 4 to 120 h compared to the untreated group, whereas the treated group had higher (P < 0.05 or P < 0.01) mitochondrial transmembrane potentials at 24 to 120 h. Flow cytometry assays also showed that there was less (P < 0.05 or P < 0.01) apoptosis after 24 h in the treated group than in the untreated group. Taken together, these observations indicate that MPTP is a key node that plays a predominant role in the mitochondrial apoptosis pathway in the host cell induced by Eimeria tenella.