Eukaryotic cells respond to DNA damage by activating damage checkpoint pathways, which arrest cell cycle progression and induce gene expression. We isolated a full-length cDNA encoding a 49-kDa protein from Leishmania major, which exhibited significant deduced amino acid sequence homology with the annotated Leishmania sp. DNA damage-inducible (Ddi1-like) protein, as well as with the Ddi1 protein from Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In contrast to the previously described Ddi1 protein, the protein from L. major displays three domains: (1) an NH2-terminal ubiquitin like; (2) a COOH terminal ubiquitin-associated; (3) a retroviral aspartyl proteinase, containing the typical D[S/T]G signature. The function of the L. major Ddi1-like recombinant protein was investigated after expression in baculovirus/insect cells and biochemical analysis, revealing preferential substrate selectivity for aspartyl proteinase A₂ family substrates, with optimal activity in acidic conditions. The proteolytic activity was inhibited by aspartyl proteinase inhibitors. Molecular modeling of the retroviral domain of the Ddi1-like Leishmania protein revealed a dimer structure that contained a double Asp-Ser-Gly-Ala amino acid sequence motif, in an almost identical geometry to the exhibited by the homologous retroviral aspartyl protease domain of yeast Ddi1 protein. Our results indicate that the isolated Ddi1-like protein is a functional aspartyl proteinase in L. major, opening possibility to be considered as a potential target for novel antiparasitic drugs.