A mutant of Escherichia coli thioredoxin containing serine residues in place of the two active-site cysteines, termed C32S,C35S, previously shown to be partially able to substitute for reduced thioredoxin in certain phage systems, has been characterized by 1H NMR spectroscopy at pH values between 5.5 and 10. The 1H NMR spectrum of the mutant at pH 5.5 is very similar to that of the wild-type protein in either the reduced or oxidized state. Chemical shift changes in the vicinity of the active site serines indicate that the nearby hydrophobic pocket is somewhat changed, probably as a result of the replacement of the cysteine thiols with the smaller, more hydrophilic hydroxyl side chains and a change in the preferred chi 1 angles of the side chains. Although the pattern of amide protons persistent in 2H2O differs only slightly between the two forms of the wild-type protein, the pattern observed for the C32S,C35S mutant shows characteristic features that correspond closely with those of the reduced wild-type protein rather than with the oxidized form. The pH dependence of the mutant protein shows a single group titrating close to the active site with a pKa of 8.3, which we assign to the buried carboxyl group of Asp 26 by analogy with the behavior of wild-type thioredoxin. The pKa is significantly higher for the mutant protein, consistent with an increase in the hydrophobicity of the pocket where the carboxyl is buried, probably due to repacking caused by the removal of the cysteine thiols and the placement of the serine hydroxyls in positions where they interact better with solvent. The results demonstrate that the solution behavior of the mutant protein is similar in many ways to that of reduced wild-type thioredoxin, explaining its partial activity in the two essential roles of reduced thioredoxin as a subunit of phage T7 DNA polymerase and in the assembly of filamentous phage.