Azotobacter vinelandii ferredoxin I is a small protein that contains one [4Fe-4S] cluster and one [3Fe-4S] cluster. Recently the x-ray crystal structure has been redetermined and the fdxA gene, which encodes the protein, has been cloned and sequenced. Here we report the site-directed mutation of Cys-20, which is a ligand of the [4Fe-4S] cluster in the native protein, to alanine and the characterization of the protein product by x-ray crystallographic and spectroscopic methods. The data show that the mutant protein again contains one [4Fe-4S] cluster and one [3Fe-4S] cluster. The new [4Fe-4S] cluster obtains its fourth ligand from Cys-24, a free cysteine in the native structure. The formation of this [4Fe-4S] cluster drives rearrangement of the protein structure.