Plant legumains are cysteine proteinases putatively involved in processing endogenous proteins. Phytocystatins (PhyCys) have been described as plant inhibitors of papain-like cysteine proteinases. Some PhyCys contain a carboxy terminal extension with an amino acid motif (SNSL) similar to that involved in the inhibition of legumain-like proteins by human cystatins. The role of these carboxy terminal extended PhyCys as inhibitors of legumain-like cysteine proteinases is here shown by in vitro inhibition of human legumain and legumain-like activities from barley extracts. Moreover, site-directed mutagenesis has demonstrated that the asparagine of the SNSL motif is essential in this inhibition. We prove for first time the existence of legumain inhibitors in plants.