The proteasomes of some protozoa are possible targets for chemotherapy. Leishmaniasis is a major health problem in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) co-infected subjects. Two HIV protease inhibitors (PI), indinavir and saquinavir, have been shown to block proteasome functions; we therefore investigated their effects on the growth of two Leishmania spp. (Leishmania major and Leishmania infantum). After 24 h of treatment, both drugs exhibited a dose-dependent antileishmanial activity, with 50% lethal dose (LD50) values of, respectively, 8.3 microM and 7 microM on L. major; minor activity was observed on L. infantum. These results add new in vitro insights into the wide-spectrum efficacy of PI and suggest studying their action on amastigote forms of leishmania within macrophages in order to validate their potential contribution against opportunistic infections in treated seropositive patients.