Chlamydia trachomatis is an obligate intracellular bacterium responsible for a number of human diseases. The mechanism underlying the intracellular parasitology of Chlamydiae remains poorly understood. In searching for host factors required for chlamydial infection, we discovered that C. trachomatis growth was effectively inhibited with GM6001 and TAPI-0, two compounds known as specific inhibitors of matrix metalloproteases. The inhibition was independent of chlamydial entry of the cell, suggesting that the loss of extracellular metalloprotease activities of the host cell is unlikely to be the mechanism for the growth suppression. Nucleotide sequences of candidate metalloprotease genes remained unchanged in a chlamydial variant designated GR10, which had been selected for resistance to the inhibitors. Nevertheless, GR10 displayed a single base mutation in the presumable promoter region of the gene for peptide deformylase (PDF), a metal-dependent enzyme that removes the N-formyl group from newly synthesized bacterial proteins. The mutation correlated with an increased PDF expression level and resistance to actinonin, a known PDF inhibitor with antibacterial activity, as compared with the parental strain. Recombinant chlamydial PDF was covalently labeled with a hydroxamate-based molecular probe designated AspR1, which was developed for the detection of metalloproteases. The AspR1 labeling of the chlamydial PDF became significantly less efficient in the presence of excessive amounts of GM6001 and TAPI-0. Finally, the PDF enzyme activity was efficiently inhibited with GM6001 and TAPI-0. Taken together, our results suggest that the metalloprotease inhibitors suppress chlamydial growth by targeting the bacterial PDF. These findings have important biochemical and medical implications.