Xanthohumol (Xan) is a natural constituent of human nutrition. Little is known about its actions on leishmanial parasites and their mitochondria as putative target. Therefore, we determined the antileishmanial activity of Xan and resveratrol (Res, as alternative compound with antileishmanial activity) with respect to mitochondria in Leishmania amazonensis promastigotes/amastigotes (LaP/LaA) in comparison with their activity in peritoneal macrophages from mouse (PMM) and macrophage cell line J774A.1 (J774). Mechanistic studies were conducted in Leishmania tarentolae promastigotes (LtP) and mitochondrial fractions isolated from LtP. Xan and Res demonstrated antileishmanial activity in LaA [half inhibitory concentration (IC50): Xan 7 µ
m, Res 14 µ
m]; while they had less influence on the viability of PMM (IC50: Xan 70 µ
m, Res >438 µ
m). In contrast to Res, Xan strongly inhibited oxygen consumption in Leishmania (LtP) but not in J774 cells. This was based on the inhibition of the mitochondrial electron transfer complex II/III by Xan, which was less pronounced with Res. Neither Xan nor Res increased mitochondrial superoxide release in LtP, while both decreased the mitochondrial membrane potential in LtP. Bioenergetic studies showed that LtP mitochondria have no spare respiratory capacity in contrast to mitochondria in J774 cells and can therefore much less adapt to stress by mitochondrial inhibitors, such as Xan. These data show that Xan may have antileishmanial activity, which is mediated by mitochondrial inhibition.