Abstract Direct numerical simulation (DNS) of small prolate ellipsoidal particles suspended in a turbulent channel flow is reported. The coupling between the fluid and the particles is one-way. The particles are subjected to the hydrodynamic drag force and torque valid for creeping flow conditions. Six different particle cases with varying particle aspect ratios and equivalent response times are investigated. Results show that, in the near-wall region, ellipsoidal particles tend to align with the mean flow direction, and the alignment increases with increasing particle aspect ratio. When the particle inertia increases, the particles are less oriented in the spanwise direction and more oriented in the wall-normal direction. In the core region of the channel, the orientation becomes isotropic.