The polypeptide molecular weight of lecithin-cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT) (45000) was obtained by deducting the weight of carbohydrate moiety (25%, w/w) from the total molecular weight of 60,000. LCAT was found to have a relatively high content of glutamic acid, aspartic acid, glycine, and leucine residues and four half-cystines. The carbohydrate content was found to be about 25% (w/w): hexoses, 13%; hexosamines, 6.2%; and sialic acid, 5.4%. The total number of 408 amino acid residues per mole and the mean residue weight of 110.3 were found. From fluorescence spectroscopy analysis 6-7 mol of tryptophan were found per mole of LCAT in 10 mM phosphate (pH 7.4). However, when LCAT was digested by the mixture of chymotrypsin and pronase the tryptophan residues increased to 10-11 mol/mol of LCAT, which agrees well with data obtained previously by ultraviolet absorption spectroscopy. A partial specific volume of 0.707 mL/g was determined by compositional analysis. Human LCAT was found to have a relatively high extinction coefficient (E(1cm)(1%)) of 21 at 280 nm and neutral pH. Two residues of cysteine per mole of LCAT were estimated both in the presence or absence of sodium dodecyl sulfate by titration with 5,5'-dithiobis-2-nitrobenzoic acid. The enzyme showed a lower tendency to staining with Coomassie blue R-250 than bovine serum albumin. The enzyme was rapidly inactivated by diisopropyl fluorophosphate (DFP), regardless of whether the free sulfhydryl were blocked or not. The enzyme was also irreversibly inhibited by cysteine above concentrations of 1 mM. Neither the high density lipoprotein nor liposome substrate was able to protect against the inhibition by cysteine or DFP.