Leishmania amastigotes primarily proliferate within macrophages in the mammalian host. Genome-based metabolic reconstructions, combined with biochemical, reverse genetic and mRNA or protein profiling studies are providing new insights into the metabolism of this intracellular stage. We propose that the complex nutritional requirements of amastigotes have contributed to the tropism of these parasites for the amino acid-rich phagolysosome of macrophages. Amastigote metabolism in this compartment is robust because many metabolic mutants are capable of either growing normally or persisting long term in susceptible animals. New approaches for measuring amastigote metabolism in vivo are discussed.