Control of zoonotic visceral leishmaniosis can be achieved using several available drugs. These drugs present high toxicity and require longer treatment regimens which complicate compliance to the treatment. Other control measures directed to the vector or the reservoirs are useful tools to restrain the spreading of this disease but the effects are transitory. A safe, affordable and efficient vaccine conferring long lasting immunity should be the most cost effective way of controlling zoonotic visceral leishmaniosis. The present study aims at characterizing a cyclophilin protein 1 of Leishmania infantum (LiCyP1) and investigating whether recombinant LiCyP1 (LirCyP1) is able to confer protection against infection by evaluating viable parasite load and the generation of specific CD4(+) and CD8(+) effector and central memory T cells in rodent model. LiCyP1 is present in the cytoplasm of L. infantum amastigotes and promastigotes. Immunization of BALB/c mice with LirCyP1 confers high protection to L infantum infection, causing a marked reduction in parasite replication in the liver and spleen. Furthermore, helper and cytotoxic memory T cell subsets able to specifically recognize parasite antigens expanded in immunized and in challenged mice. CD4(+) T cell subpopulation of intermediate phenotype (CD62L(high)CD127(low)) of challenging mice also presented an accentuated expansion after the recall. This study demonstrated that LirCyP1 confers partial protection to L. infantum infection, promoting the generation of a desired long lasting immunity. LirCyP1 can be considered a potential candidate for the design of a vaccine against zoonotic visceral leishmaniosis. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.