Gossypol, a phenolic compound isolated from the cotton plant, is a powerful inhibitor of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide-linked enzymes (alpha-hydroxyacid dehydrogenase and malate dehydrogenase) of Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasite that causes Chagas' disease. Parasites at the epimastigote stage that were incubated for 5 minutes with 100 micromolar gossypol were completely immobilized. Concentrations of gossypol as low as 0.01 micromolar markedly reduced the growth rate of T. cruzi in culture.