Kinetoplastid parasites require transferrin (Tf), being the main source of iron, for growth and multiplication. This group of parasites developed a unique receptor-mediated system for acquiring host Tf which bears no structural homology with the host transferrin receptor. Trypanoplasma borreli, a blood parasite of common carp, probably uses a similar mechanism to sequester iron from host transferrin. In this study, we demonstrate a critical role of Tf for parasite growth. For in vitro studies we isolated and purified Tf from carp homozygous for the D or G allele of Tf. We obtained Tf-depleted serum using specific antibodies to carp Tf and studied gene expression in vivo during T. borreli infection with Real Time-quantitative PCR. We demonstrate that T. borreli cannot survive in medium supplemented with Tf-depleted serum while reconstitution with Tf restores normal growth. The critical role of Tf for parasite survival was shown in incomplete medium (medium without serum): addition of purified Tf significantly increased parasite survival. We also demonstrate that Tf polymorphism has a significant impact on T. borreli multiplication. Cultured parasites die more quickly in an environment containing D-typed Tf, as compared to medium with G-typed Tf. Gene expression during T. borreli infection in carp did not show an acute phase response. We could, however, observe an increased transcription of Tf in the head kidney, which may be associated with an immunological function of the Tf protein.