Deoxynivalenol (DON) is one of the most prevalent cereal contaminants with major public health concerns owing to its high toxigenic potentials. Once ingested, DON first and foremost targets epithelial cells of the gastrointestinal tract, whose proper functioning, as the first line of defence, is of paramount importance for the host"s health. Emerging evidences, summarized in this article, suggest that DON produces its toxicity primarily via activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) signalling pathway and alteration in the expression of genes responsible for key physiological and immunological functions of the intestinal tissue of chickens and pigs. The activation of MAPKs signalling cascade results in disruption of the gut barrier function and an increase in the permeability by reducing expression of the tight junction proteins. Exposure to DON also down-regulates the expression of multiple transporter systems in the enterocytes with subsequent impairment of the absorption of key nutrients. Other major intestinal cytotoxic effects of DON described herein are modulation of mucosal immune responses, leading to immunosupression or stimulation of local immune cells and cytokine release, and also facilitation of the persistence of intestinal pathogens in the gut. Both of the last events potentiate enteric infections and local inflammation in pigs and poultry, rendering enterocytes and the host more vulnerable to luminal toxic compounds. This review highlights the cytotoxic risks associated with the intake of even low levels of DON and also identifies gaps of knowledge that need to be addressed by future research.