This study reports that inhibition of Leishmania Topo-I with the minor groove-binding ligands (MGBLs) Hoechst 33342 (Ho342) blocks parasite growth in culture by mechanisms involving DNA breakage. While Ho342 inhibited the replication of several species of Leishmania in a dose- and time-dependent manner, Ho258 was not effective. Cytofluorometric analysis suggested that superior effectiveness of Ho342 over Ho258 was attributed to Leishmania parasites being more permeable toward Ho342. This observation was supported by the ability of both Ho342 and Ho258 to block the relaxation of supercoiled pBR322 DNA by Leishmania Topo-I. The Ho342 specificity toward L. donovani Topo-I was reinforced by the observation that increased Topo-I gene expression and Topo-I activity in Leishmania was paralleled by augmented resistance for this compound. Furthermore, the capacity of NaCl treatment to reverse MGBL-mediated DNA break suggests that Ho342 targetted Topo-I. Moreover, we observed that Ho342-inducible arrest of Leishmania growth was accompanied by G1 arrest and induction of cell death that closely resembles apoptosis. Taken together, our results suggest that MGBL compounds show promise as Topo-I inhibitors against Leishmania infection.