Trypanosoma cruzi, the causative agent of the American Trypanosomiasis, Chagas disease, contains a major cysteine proteinase (CP), cruzipain (also known as cruzain, or GP57 / 51). The enzyme is a member of the papain C1 family of CPs, with a specificity intermediate between those of cathepsin L and cathepsin B. The enzyme, which is expressed at different levels by different parasite stages, is encoded by a high number of genes (up to 130 in the Tul2 strain), which code for a pre-pro-enzyme. Mature cruzipain consists of a catalytic moiety with high homology to cathepsins S and L, and a C-terminal domain, characteristic of Type I CPs of Trypanosomatids, and absent in all other C1 family CPs described so far. Irreversible inhibitors of cruzipain (peptidyl diazomethylketones, peptidyl fluoromethylketones, peptidyl vinyl sulphones) are able to block the differentiation steps in the parasites life cycle, and effectively kill the organism. Recently, a vinyl sulphone derivative (N-piperazine-Phe-hPhe-vinyl sulphone phenyl) which is an efficient inhibitor of cruzipain and kills T. cruzi by inducing an accumulation of unprocessed cruzipain in the Golgi cisternae, interfering with the secretory pathway, has been tested in vivo in a mice model (J.H. McKerrow et al.). The curative effects observed, as well as the good bioavailability of the inhibitor and its apparent lack of undesirable side effects, make it a promising lead compound for the development of new drugs for the chemotherapy of Chagas disease.