Toxic microalgae have their own pathogens, and understanding the way in which these microalgae respond to antagonistic attacks may provide information about their capacity to persist during harmful algal bloom events. Here, we compared the effects of the physical presence of the parasite Amoebophrya sp. and exposure to waterborne cues from cultures infected with this parasite, on gene expression by the toxic dinoflagellates, Alexandrium fundyense. Compared with control samples, a total of 14 882 Alexandrium genes were differentially expressed over the whole-parasite infection cycle at three different time points (0, 6 and 96 h). RNA sequencing analyses indicated that exposure to the parasite and parasitic waterborne cues produced significant changes in the expression levels of Alexandrium genes associated with specific metabolic pathways. The observed upregulation of genes associated with glycolysis, the tricarboxylic acid cycle, fatty acid β-oxidation, oxidative phosphorylation and photosynthesis suggests that parasite infection increases the energy demand of the host. The observed upregulation of genes correlated with signal transduction indicates that Alexandrium could be sensitized by parasite attacks. This response might prime the defence of the host, as indicated by the increased expression of several genes associated with defence and stress. Our findings provide a molecular overview of the response of a dinoflagellate to parasite infection.