Difluoromethylornithine (DFMO) is a specific and irreversible inhibitor of ornithine decarboxylase, an enzyme which catalyzes the first step in the biosynthetic pathway of the polyamines. We tested the effect of DFMO on the growth of Giardia lamblia, Entamoeba histolytica, and Trichomonas vaginalis. Growth of G. lamblia was inhibited by DFMO at concentrations of greater than or equal to 1.25 mM. Culture doubling time increased with increasing DFMO concentration. Growth inhibition was reversed if spermidine was added within 53 h of addition of DFMO; no growth was observed if spermidine was added later, indicating eventual parasite death. The growth of E. histolytica and T. vaginalis, two unrelated mucosal-dwelling parasites of humans, was not inhibited by 20 mM DFMO. These studies indicate that polyamine biosynthesis from ornithine is required for growth of G. lamblia.