Abstract The potential role of phospholipases in trypanosomiasis was investigated using bee venom phospholipase A2 (bvPLA2) as a model. The effects of bvPLA2 on the survival of Trypanosoma brucei brucei, 2 h and 12 h cultures of Enterobacter cloacae, Escherichia coli, Citrobacter freundii were studied. About 1 mg ml −1 bvPLA2 was trypanocidal after 30 min. Some growth occurred at lower concentrations up to 2 h after treatment but viability decreased up to 8 h. Even very low concentrations of bvPLA2 (10 −12 mg ml −1) had some trypanocidal activity. Bee venom PLA2 was bactericidal to 2 h bacterial cultures but bacteriostatic to 12 h ones. Minimum bactericidal concentrations were 10 −5–10 −6 mg ml −1. The results showed that bvPLA2 had significant trypanocidal and antibacterial effects on Gram-negative bacteria. The relationship to events occurring during infection is discussed. Phospholipases may play a role in increased endotoxin levels in trypanosomiasis.