The CP05 saponin from Calliandra pulcherrima Benth, shows remarkable similarities to the QS21 saponin of Quillaja saponaria Molina. Both shared a monoterpene hydrophobic moiety, a glycidic chain attached to the triterpene C28, and three sugars attached to C3. Different from QS21, the CP05 does not show the aldehyde group in triterpene C4 involved in TH1 response. Balb/c mice were immunized either intact saponin (CP05), the monoterpene-deprived (BS), the C28 carbohydrate-deprived (HS) or the sapogenin fraction, in formulation with the FML antigen of Leishmania donovani and challenged with 2 × 108 amastigotes of L. chagasi. While the CP05 induced 90% survival and 92.1% parasite reduction, a 100% survival and 94.1% protection were detected after the BS-vaccine treatment, indicating that the monoterpene acylated moiety, absent in the BS vaccine, is not necessary for the induction of a protective global TH1 response. Only the DTH response of BS vaccines was mildly lower than that of CP05 vaccinees. Maximal anti-FML antibody, CD4+ and CD8+ Leishmania specific lymphocytes, IFN-γ splenocyte secretion, reduction in parasite load and survival was also detected for the BS vaccine. The HSFML vaccine showed diminished responses in all tested variables, except for IFN-γ secretion, indicating that the integrity of the carbohydrate moiety attached to C28 is mandatory for the these functions. No protection was induced by the sapogenin-FML indicating that the CP05 triterpene which lacks the C4 aldehyde group, is not a immunostimulating compound. No contribution to protection was detected in the CP05 saponin treated control group supporting the specificity of the FML antigenic preparation.