Acid ecto-phosphatases are enzymes that hydrolyze phosphomonoesters in the acidic pH range with their active sites facing the extacellular medium. Their activities can be measured in living cells. In bacteria and protozoan pathogens, acid ecto-phosphatases have been associated with the survival of intracellular pathogens within phagocytes through inhibition of the respiratory burst, suggesting that they act as virulence factors. Extracellular acid phosphatase activity in Leishmania (L.) donovani has been associated with the degree of promastigote virulence/infectivity. The levels of acid ecto-phosphatase activity in different Leishmania sp or even strains of the same species vary and this has been linked to their virulence. It may also be related to their ability to survive and multiply in the insect host. Acid phosphatase enzymatic activity can be measured in crude membrane fractions and in membrane fractions enriched in plasma membrane, however, in these cases, the intracellular acid phosphatases, mainly localized in lysosomes, contribute to the final result. Therefore, measuring phosphatase activity at the surface of live cells in acidic pH range is the only accurate way to measure acid ecto-phosphatase activity. This assay is performed at 25 °C or 37 °C for 30 min using as substrate the generic phosphatase substrate p-nitrophenyl phosphate (pNPP), in a citrate buffer, with or without sodium tartrate (L(+)-tartaric acid), as histidine acid phosphatases are classified according to their sensitivity to tartate inhibition. The steps of the protocol consist of pelleting cells in suspension, in this case Leishmania promastigotes, washing twice with HEPES buffer, resuspending the cells in the substrate reaction mixture and terminating the reaction by the addition of 0.5 N NaOH. The cells are removed by centrifugation and the absorbance of the reaction product (p-nitrophenolate=pNP) in the supernatant is measured at 405 nm. The enzymatic activity (A405 values) is normalized for the mean number of cells/ml used for each independent experiment.