The Nipah virus fusion (F) protein is proteolytically processed to F1 + F2 subunits. We demonstrate here that cathepsin L is involved in this important maturation event. Cathepsin inhibitors ablated cleavage of Nipah F. Proteolytic processing of Nipah F and fusion activity was dramatically reduced in cathepsin L shRNA-expressing Vero cells. Additionally, Nipah virus F-mediated fusion was inhibited in cathepsin L-deficient cells, but coexpression of cathepsin L restored fusion activity. Both purified cathepsin L and B could cleave immunopurified Nipah F protein, but only cathepsin L produced products of the correct size. Our results suggest that endosomal cathepsins can cleave Nipah F, but that cathepsin L specifically converts Nipah F to a mature and fusogenic form.