The ability of myoglobin (Mb) to reversibly bind O2 and other ligands has been well characterized. Mb also participates with a variety of redox metals to form metmyoglobin (metMb). By using an anaerobic stopped-flow device we have measured outer-sphere oxidation by [Fe(CN)6]3 of native sperm whale myoglobin, recombinant wild-type Mb, and a series of mutant Mb proteins in which the distal His-64 was changed to Gly, Phe, Leu or Val. Second-order rate constants for oxidation of mutant proteins are 10-15 times greater than for recombinant or native (kox approximately 10(6) M-1 s-1). We attribute the reduced rate of oxidation of wild-type protein to a higher reorganization energy imposed by the presence of the unique water/His-64/heme interaction, which is absent in the mutant proteins.