Ethnopharmacological relevance: Tridax procumbens is an active herb against leishmaniasis. Aim of the study: Leishmaniasis is a group of diseases caused by Leishmania protozoa. We investigated the antileishmanial activity of Tridax procumbens extracts and a pure compound against promastigotes of Leishmania mexicana, the causative agent of cutaneous leishmaniasis in the New World. Materials and methods: Extracts and (3S)-16,17-didehydrofalcarinol (1) were obtained by chromatographic methods from Tridax procumbens, and the latter identified by spectroscopic analysis. The effect of these extracts and 1 on the growth inhibition of promastigotes of Leishmania mexicana was evaluated. In order to test the safety of extracts and 1, mammalian cells were treated with them, and cell viability was assessed using trypan blue and MTT. Results: We demonstrated that extracts of Tridax procumbens and 1 showed a pronounced activity against Leishmania mexicana. The methanol extract inhibited promastigotes growth of Leishmania mexicana with a 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) of 3 μg/ml, while oxylipin 1 exhibited the highest inhibition at IC50= 0.478 μg/ml. Conclusions: In this study we report the biological activity of extracts and (3S)-16,17-didehydrofalcarinol (1), obtained from Tridax procumbens, on the promastigote form of Leishmania mexicana, with no effect upon mammalian cells. © 2009 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.