Perkinsus marinus is responsible for a chronic disease (Dermo) of the Eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica. In order to simulate the in vivo environment more closely, a chemically defined medium (JL-ODRP-3) was supplemented with tissue homogenate extracts or plasma from oysters possessing varying degrees of susceptibility to P. marinus infection. In media supplemented with extracts from highly susceptible oysters (C. virginica), P. marinus cells secreted elevated amounts of a set of low molecular weight serine proteases (LMP: 30–45 kDa) as assessed by enhanced digestion within gelatin-substrate SDS–PAGE gels. Oyster species of low susceptibility (C. gigas and C. ariakensis) did not exhibit this ability to upregulate P. marinus LMP expression. Oyster extract supplementation also led to pronounced changes in P. marinus cellular morphology, such that the cells were comparable to those observed within naturally infected oysters.