Dan Parks replaces the injured Craig Ronaldson at out-half and the former Scotland international is named in an otherwise all-Irish qualified Connacht team.
The only change in the pack comes with the introduction of Academy forward Eoghan Masterson who slots in at openside flanker to link up with Andrew Browne and captain John Muldoon in the back row.
This is a second senior cap for the 20-year-old Masterson who made his debut at number 8 against the Scarlets in November.
Changes on the bench include a call-up for Academy prop Finlay Bealham and fit-again out-half Miah Nikora following his return from a long-term shoulder injury.
Robbie Henshaw trained with the Ireland squad all week and remains on international duty for the weekend.
Speaking about the team selection and the trip to Parma, Pat Lam said: "With injuries from last week, we've been forced to make some frontline changes but again it's a brilliant opportunity for our young Academy players Darragh Leader, Eoghan Masterson and Finlay Bealham to step up and make their mark.
"There is a real mixture of youth and experience in this Connacht side but it's also pleasing that we can name 20 Irish qualified players in a squad of 23.
"There was definitely a sense of relief to get the win against Edinburgh last week but we have set targets for this block of games and we go to Italy with our own expectations on how we play this game and force the outcome.
"Having played Zebre so frequently, and with three wins from three this season, the pressure is on us to deliver again.
"But we can't underestimate Zebre. They have always threatened us and they will be targeting this game just as much as we are. It's up to us now to get the job done this weekend and push up that table."
CONNACHT (v Zebre): Darragh Leader; Tiernan O'Halloran, Eoin Griffin, David McSharry, Fionn Carr; Dan Parks, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Jason Harris-Wright, Rodney Ah You, Michael Swift, Michael Kearney, Andrew Browne, Eoghan Masterson, John Muldoon (capt).
Replacements: David Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, JP Cooney, Aly Muldowney, George Naoupu, Paul O'Donohoe, Miah Nikora, Danie Poolman.