The apical organelles in apicomplexan parasites are characteristic secretory vesicles containing complex mixtures of molecules. While apical organelle discharge has been demonstrated to be involved in the cellular invasion of some apicomplexan parasites, including Toxoplasma gondii and Plasmodium spp., the mechanisms of apical organelle discharge by Cryptosporidium parvum sporozoites and its role in host cell invasion are unclear. Here we show that the discharge of C. parvum apical organelles occurs in a temperature-dependent fashion. The inhibition of parasite actin and tubulin polymerization by cytochalasin D and colchicines, respectively, inhibited parasite apical organelle discharge. Chelation of the parasite's intracellular calcium also inhibited apical organelle discharge, and this process was partially reversed by raising the intracellular calcium concentration by use of the ionophore A23187. The inhibition of parasite cytoskeleton polymerization by cytochalasin D and colchicine and the depletion of intracellular calcium also decreased the gliding motility of C. parvum sporozoites. Importantly, the inhibition of apical organelle discharge by C. parvum sporozoites blocked parasite invasion of, but not attachment to, host cells (i.e., cultured human cholangiocytes). Moreover, the translocation of a parasite protein, CP2, to the host cell membrane at the region of the host cell-parasite interface was detected; an antibody to CP2 decreased the C. parvum invasion of cholangiocytes. These data demonstrate that the discharge of C. parvum sporozoite apical organelle contents occurs and that it is temperature, intracellular calcium, and cytoskeleton dependent and required for host cell invasion, confirming that apical organelles play a central role in C. parvum entry into host cells.