Trypanosome protozoa, an early lineage of eukaryotic cells, have proteases homologous to mammalian lysosomal cathepsins, but the precursor proteins lack mannose 6-phosphate. Utilizing green fluorescent protein as a reporter, we demonstrate that the carbohydrate-free prodomain of a trypanosome cathepsin L is necessary and sufficient for directing green fluorescent protein to the lysosome/endosome compartment. A proper prodomain/catalytic domain processing site sequence is also required to free the mature protease for delivery to the lysosome/endosome compartment. A nine-amino acid prodomain loop motif, implicated in prodomain-receptor interactions in mammalian cells, is conserved in the protozoa. Site-directed mutagenesis now confirms the importance of this loop to protease trafficking and suggests that a protein motif targeting signal for lysosomal proteases arose early in eukaryotic cell evolution.