ABSTRACT Historical ethnobotanical studies of medicinal plants reveal important information about traditional practices of human groups and influence current understanding of the use of plants. The present article describes the ethnopharmacology of mururé (Brosimum acutifolium) since the XVIII century for the treatment of syphilis and correlates past and present therapeutic use. This information contributes to the appreciation of historical records in the contemporary use of natural products. The analysis of documental records is important for comparing information available overtime about the medicinal use and application of specific species. The present research was based on the analysis of a Jesuit work and other complementary documents. The medicinal effect of mururé is attributed to its latex, and dosage and adverse reactions are described. Historical documents stand out as valuable assets for pharmaceutical technology because they allow comparisons to be made between past and present uses of species as curative agents.