Phosphatidylserine decarboxylase (PSDs) play a central role in the synthesis of phosphatidylethanolamine in numerous species of prokaryotes and eukaryotes. PSDs are unusual decarboxylase containing a pyruvoyl prosthetic group within the active site. The covalently attached pyruvoyl moiety is formed in a concerted reaction when the PSD proenzyme undergoes an endoproteolytic cleavage into a large β-subunit, and a smaller α-subunit, which harbors the prosthetic group at its N terminus. The mechanism of PSD proenzyme cleavage has long been unclear. Using a coupled in vitro transcription/translation system with the soluble Plasmodium knowlesi enzyme (PkPSD), we demonstrate that the post-translational processing is inhibited by the serine protease inhibitor, phenylmethylsulfonyl fluoride. Comparison of PSD sequences across multiple phyla reveals a uniquely conserved aspartic acid within an FFXRX6RX12PXD motif, two uniquely conserved histidine residues within a PXXYHXXHXP motif, and a uniquely conserved serine residue within a GS(S/T) motif, suggesting that PSDs belong to the D-H-S serine protease family. The function of the conserved D-H-S residues was probed using site-directed mutagenesis of PkPSD. The results from these mutagenesis experiments reveal that Asp-139, His-198, and Ser-308 are all essential for endoproteolytic processing of PkPSD, which occurs in cis. In addition, within the GS(S/T) motif found in all PSDs, the Gly-307 residue is also essential, but the Ser/Thr-309 is non-essential. These results define the mechanism whereby PSDs begin their biochemical existence as proteases that execute one autoendoproteolytic cleavage reaction to give rise to a mature PSD harboring a pyruvoyl prosthetic group.