Leishmania donovani cannot synthesize purines de novo and express a multiplicity of enzymes that enable them to salvage purines from their hosts. Previous efforts to generate an L. donovani strain deficient in both hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyl-transferase (HGPRT) and xanthine phosphoribosyltransferase (XPRT) using gene replacement approaches were not successful, lending indirect support to the hypothesis that either HGPRT or XPRT is crucial for purine salvage by the parasite. We now report the genetic confirmation of this hypothesis through the construction of a conditional delta hgprt/delta xprt mutant strain that exhibits an absolute requirement for 2'-deoxycoformycin, an inhibitor of the leishmanial adenine aminohydrolase enzyme, and either adenine or adenosine as a source of purine. Unlike wild type parasites, the delta hgprt/delta xprt strain cannot proliferate indefinitely without 2'-deoxycoformycin or with hypoxanthine, guanine, xanthine, guanosine, inosine, or xanthosine as the sole purine nutrient. The delta hgprt/delta xprt mutant infects murine bone marrow-derived macrophages <5% as effectively as wild type parasites and cannot sustain an infection. These data establish genetically that either HGPRT or XPRT is absolutely essential for purine acquisition, parasite viability, and parasite infectivity of mouse macrophages, that all exogenous purines are funneled to hypoxanthine and/or xanthine by L. donovani, and that the purine sources within the macrophage to which the parasites have access are HGPRT or XPRT substrates.