Barrett has been struggling with a knee problem and did not train this week so Lienert-Brown will play his second Test of the year alongside Rieko Ioane in midfield for Friday's blockbuster tournament launch at Stade de France.
Codie Taylor returns at hooker after a hamstring issue and Nepo Laulala comes in at tighthead prop for Tyrel Lomax, who needed 30 stitches in a cut to his leg after the crushing loss to South Africa in New Zealand's final warm-up.
In the back row, Dalton Papali'i, who usually plays on the openside, starts as blindside flanker with Shannon Frizell still ruled out by a hamstring issue.
In a blow for the All Blacks, winger Emoni Narawa has reinjured his back in training and has been ruled out of the tournament with a squad replacement to be named at a later date.
New Zealand were thrashed 35-7 by world champions South Africa in their final World Cup warm-up at Twickenham in late August, the biggest loss for the All Blacks in their 102-year history.
They won their four previous Tests to claim more Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup titles and Foster was confident he was sending out a team capable of defending New Zealand's record of never having lost a World Cup pool match.
"You look at the performances against South Africa, Australia, suddenly we are World Cup favourites," he said.
"And then it got a bit brutal at Twickenham and suddenly we're the worst All Blacks team ever. We've had a smile about that, and we're quite excited about it."
Lienert-Brown is an experienced campaigner who missed the start of New Zealand's triumphant Rugby Championship campaign due to suspension for a dangerous tackle.
The All Blacks will miss the option Barrett offers as a third strategic kicker along with flyhalf Richie Mo'unga and his brother Beauden Barrett at fullback but Foster said he should be fit for the second Pool A game against Namibia on September 15.
"He was relatively close," the coach added. "It's a precautionary thing in some ways and we'd like to think that he'll be back and available next week."
Foster said Papali'i was going to have a run at blindside flanker off the bench in the Twickenham test against the Springboks but the plan had to be torn up after lock Scott Barrett was shown a red card.
Luke Jacobson, who started in the number six shirt at Twickenham, will back up Papali'i from the bench.
New Zealand team:
Beauden Barrett, Will Jordan, Rieko Ioane, Anton Lienert-Brown, Mark Telea, Richie Mo'unga, Aaron Smith, Ardie Savea, Sam Cane (capt), Dalton Papali'i, Scott Barrett, Sam Whitelock, Nepo Laulala, Codie Taylor, Ethan de Groot.
Replacements: Samisoni Taukei'aho, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Fletcher Newell, Tupou Vaa'i, Luke Jacobson, Finlay Christie, David Havili, Leicester Fainga'anuku.