Chagas disease originated millions of years ago as an enzootic infection of wild animals and began to be transmitted to humans as an anthropozoonosis when man invaded wild ecotopes. While evidence of human infection has been found in mummies up to 9,000 years old, endemic Chagas disease became established as a zoonosis only in the last 200-300 years, as triatomines adapted to domestic environments. It is estimated that 15-16 million people are infected with Trypanosoma cruzi in Latin America, and 75-90 million are exposed to infection. Control of Chagas disease must be undertaken by interrupting its transmission by vectors and blood transfusions, improving housing and areas surrounding dwellings, providing sanitation education for exposed populations and treating acute and recently infected chronic cases. These measures should be complemented by surveillance and primary, secondary and tertiary care.