Some aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases have two catalytic centers that together achieve fine-structure discrimination of closely similar amino acids. The role of tRNA is to stimulate translocation of a misactivated amino acid from the active site to the editing site where the misactivated substrate is eliminated by hydrolysis. Using isoleucyl-tRNA synthetase as an example, we placed mutations in the catalytic center for editing at residues strongly conserved from bacteria to humans. A particular single substitution and one double substitution resulted in production of mischarged tRNA, by interfering specifically with the chemical step of hydrolytic editing. The substitutions affected neither amino acid activation nor aminoacylation, with the cognate amino acid. Thus, because of the demonstrated functional independence of the two catalytic sites, errors of aminoacylation can be generated by selective mutations in the center for editing.