The protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) and visceral leishmaniasis (VL) are important problems of public health, which affect millions of people worldwide. Currently, it has been accepted that the immunity or susceptibility to infect-parasitic diseases are directly related to the nutritional status of the host. However, the mechanisms that govern the relationship between the PEM and the course of the VL are multiple and little explained. In this study the current most important aspects and the synergism between these two illnesses were presented. Bibliographic search includes empirical reports, reviews, commentaries, reports from professional associations, books, editorials and annals of congress published in diverse languages between 1960 and January 2009. As much the PEM as the infections caused by parasites of the Leishmania genus are frequent problems in the current days. As new studies are developed on the subject, it becomes essential that the society knows them.