The stem bark of Ampelocera edentula Kuhlm. (Ulmaceae) is used by the Chimanes Indians from Bolivia for the treatment of cutaneous leishmaniasis caused by the protozoan Leishmania braziliensis. A chloroform extract of the stem barks was found to be active against extracellular forms of Leishmania ssp. and Trypanosoma cruzi at 50 μg/ml. Bioassay-guided fractionation of this extract allowed us to isolate one active compound. Its structure was elucidated by spectral and chemical studies as 4-hydroxy-1-tetralone. BALB/c mice infected with L. amazonensis (PH8) or L. venezuelensis were treated one day after the parasitic infection with 4-hydroxy-1-tetralone (25 mg/kg/day) or with reference drug, Glucantime® (56 mg Sb(v)/kg disease severity. 4-Hydroxy-1-tetralone was slightly less effective than the reference drug against L. amazonensis or L. venezuelensis. Single treatment near the site of infection, 14 days after infection with L. amazonensis, with 4-hydroxy-1-tetralone (50 mg/kg) was more effective than Glucantime (112 mg/kg). This study is, to our knowledge, the first to show the activity of a tetralone for the experimental treatment of New World cutaneous leishmaniasis.