Posttranslational arginylation mediated by arginyltransferase (ATE1) is an emerging major regulator of embryogenesis and cell physiology. Impairments of ATE1 are implicated in congenital heart defects, obesity, cancer, and neurodegeneration making this enzyme an important therapeutic target, whose potential has been virtually unexplored. Here we report the development of a biochemical assay for identification of small molecule inhibitors of ATE1 and application of this assay to screen a library of 3280 compounds. Our screen identified two compounds which specifically affect ATE1-regulated processes in vivo, including tannic acid, which has been previously shown to inhibit protein degradation and angiogenesis and to act as a therapeutic agent in heart disease and cancer. Our data suggest that these actions of tannic acid are mediated by its direct effect on ATE1, which regulates protein degradation and angiogenesis in vivo.