Trypanosomes are the causative agents of Chagas' disease in Central and South America and sleeping sickness in sub-Saharan Africa. The current chemotherapy of the human trypanosomiases relies on only six drugs, five of which were developed > 30 years ago. In addition, these drugs display undesirable toxic side effects and the emergence of drug-resistant trypanosomes has been reported. Therefore, the development of new drugs in the treatment of Chagas' disease and sleeping sickness is urgently required. This article summarises the recent progress in identifying novel lead compounds for antitrypanosomal chemotherapy. Particular emphasis is placed on those agents showing promising, selective antitrypanosomal activity.