Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a devastating intestinal disease that has been associated with Cronobacter sakazakii and typically affects premature infants. Although NEC has been actively investigated, little is known about the mechanisms underlying the pathophysiology of epithelial injury and intestinal barrier damage. Cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) and protein kinase A (PKA) are important mediators and regulators of apoptosis. To test the hypothesis that C. sakazakii increases cAMP and PKA activation in experimental NEC resulting in increased epithelial apoptosis, we investigated the effects of C. sakazakii on cAMP and PKA in vitro and in vivo. Specifically, rat intestinal epithelial cells and a human intestinal epithelial cell line were infected with C. sakazakii, and cAMP levels and phosphorylation of PKA were measured. An increase in cAMP was demonstrated after infection, as well as an increase in phosphorylated PKA. Similarly, increased intestinal cAMP and PKA phosphorylation were demonstrated in a rat pup model of NEC. These increases were correlated with increased intestinal epithelial apoptosis. The additional of a PKA inhibitor (KT5720) significantly ameliorated these effects and decreased the severity of experimental NEC. Findings were compared with results from human tissue samples. Collectively, these observations indicate that cAMP and PKA phosphorylation are associated with increased apoptosis in NEC and that inhibition of PKA activation protects against apoptosis and experimental NEC.