Trypanosomes are a globally important group of parasites which together kill and debilitate millions of people world-wide. In trypanosomes, genes do not have individual promoters, rather ~10000 genes share ~200 promoters and all gene expression is thus regulated post-transcriptionally. While effector proteins which modulate the expression of many genes have been described, the mechanisms by which trypanosomes sense changes in their environment and manifest changes in gene expression remain elusive. This study demonstrates that trypanosomes sense changes in their environment through temperature sensitive RNA secondary structure. We show that the majority of observed mRNA abundance changes which distinguish insect adapted and bloodstream adapted life cycle stages can be explained through change in temperature alone.