The white shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei has been greatly impacted by Vibrio infection. In this study, we investigated the intestinal barrier response of L vannamei following challenge with Vibrio parahaemolyticus E1, by examining morphological changes and transcriptome expression levels. A total of 16,4420 unigenes were obtained from RNAseq data after quality control and assembly, and 4646 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were identified following Vibrio challenge, of which 2469 unigenes were significantly up-regulated and 2177 were significantly down-regulated. DEGs were determined to be involved in various physical, chemical and immunological intestinal barrier functions, including peritrophin, cytoskeleton and cell junction, pattern recognition receptors, antimicrobial peptide and immune signaling pathways, serine protease/protease inhibitor and prophenoloxidase system, apoptosis and phagocytosis, and antioxidant systems. Fifteen DEGs were randomly selected for validation by real-time quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) and showed results consistent with the RNA-seq data. Intestinal epithelial cell morphology was also affected by Vibrio challenge, showing epithelial detachment, nuclear pyknosis, and destruction of cell junctions. These results improve our current understanding of the intestinal barrier function in the shrimp response to bacterial infection.