We have characterized in vitro and in vivo effects of trypsin inhibitors from Theobroma seeds on the activity of trypsin- and chymotrypsin-like proteins from Lepidopteran pest insects. The action of semipurified trypsin inhibitors from Theobroma was evaluated by the inhibition of bovine trypsin and chymotrypsin activities determined by the hydrolysis of N-Benzoyl-DL-Arginine-p-Nitroanilide (BAPA) and N-Succinyl-Ala-Ala-Pho-Phe p-Nitroanilide (S-(Ala)2ProPhe-pNA). Proteinase inhibitor activities from Theobroma cacao and T. obovatum seeds were the most effective in inhibiting trypsin-like proteins, whereas those from T. obovatum and T. sylvestre were the most efficient against chymotrypsin-like proteins. All larvae midgut extracts showed trypsin-like proteolytic activities, and the putative trypsin inhibitors from Theobroma seeds significantly inhibited purified bovine trypsin. With respect to the influence of Theobroma trypsin inhibitors on intact insects, the inclusion of T. cacao extracts in artificial diets of velvet bean caterpillars (Anticarsia gemmatalis) and sugarcane borer (Diatraea saccharalis) produced a significant increase in the percentage of adult deformation, which is directly related to both the survival rate of the insects and oviposition.