The majority of research on Histomonas meleagridis was performed in the first half of the last century, especially those on morphological aspects. In the present study identical monoxenic settings for cultures of the same H. meleagridis clonal strain in its virulent low passage and attenuated high passage form enabled a comparative analysis of parasite characteristics. For the first time, it could be shown that long-term in vitro cultivation led to a severe shift in cell morphology, with the occurrence of a very distinct phenotype expressing a flagellated and highly amoebic cell morphology. Furthermore, the attenuated parasites showed better growth rates and a higher tenacity when confronted with adverse conditions. During these experiments up to 100% of the parasites, both virulent and attenuated, assumed a completely rounded morphology elucidated by electron microscopy. The findings indicate that such previously reported cyst-like stages are a defence strategy of H. meleagridis, independent of the passage level in vitro and pathogenicity in vivo. In conclusion, long-term in vitro passaging of H. meleagridis led not only to an attenuation of the parasite, as previously demonstrated, but also to a shift in the parasite's phenotype regarding morphology, growth behaviour and a higher level of tenacity.