Despite recent advances in the treatment of some forms of leishmaniasis, the available drugs are still far from ideal due to inefficacy, parasite resistance, toxicity and cost. The wide-spectrum antimicrobial activity of 2-nitrovinylfuran compounds has been described, as has their activity against Trichomonas vaginalis and other protozoa. Thus, the aim of this study was to test the antileishmanial activities of six 2-nitrovinylfurans in vitro and in a murine model of leishmaniasis. Minimum parasiticide concentration (MPC) and 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50
) values for these compounds against the promastigotes of Leishmania amazonensis
, Leishmania infantum
and Leishmania braziliensis
were determined, as were the efficacies of two selected compounds in an experimental model of cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) caused by L. amazonensis
in BALB/c mice. All of the compounds were active against the promastigotes of the three Leishmania
species tested. IC50
and MPC values were in the ranges of 0.8-4.7 μM and 1.7-32 μM, respectively. The compounds 2-bromo-5-(2-bromo-2-nitrovinyl)-furan (furvina) and 2-bromo-5-(2-methyl-2-nitrovinyl)-furan (UC245) also reduced lesion growth in vivo at a magnitude comparable to or higher than that achieved by amphotericin B treatment. The results demonstrate the potential of this class of compounds as antileishmanial agents and support the clinical testing of Dermofural® (a furvina-containing antifungal ointment) for the treatment of CL.