In this review we discuss the ongoing situation of human malaria in the Brazilian Amazon, where it is endemic causing over 610,000 new acute cases yearly, a number which is on the increase. This is partly a result of drug resistant parasites and new antimalarial drugs are urgently needed. The approaches we have used in the search of new drugs during decades are now reviewed and include ethnopharmocology, plants randomly selected, extracts or isolated substances from plants shown to be active against the blood stage parasites in our previous studies. Emphasis is given on the medicinal plant Bidens pilosa
, proven to be active against the parasite blood stages in tests using freshly prepared plant extracts. The anti-sporozoite activity of one plant used in the Brazilian endemic area to prevent malaria is also described, the so called "Indian beer" ( Ampelozizyphus amazonicus
). Freshly prepared extracts from the roots of this plant were totally inactive against blood stage parasites, but active against sporozoites of Plasmodium gallinaceum
or the primary exoerythrocytic stages reducing tissue parasitism in inoculated chickens. This result will be of practical importance if confirmed in mammalian malaria. Problems and perspectives in the search for antimalarial drugs are discussed as well as the toxicological and clinical trials to validate some of the active plants for public health use in Brazil.