Photoactive yellow protein (PYP) undergoes a light-driven cycle of color and protonation states that is part of a mechanism of bacterial phototaxis. This article concerns functionally important protonation states of PYP and the interactions that stabilize them, and changes in the protonation state during the photocycle. In particular, the chromophore pK(a) is known to be shifted down so that the chromophore is negatively charged in the ground state (dark state) even though it is buried in the protein, while nearby Glu46 has an unusually high pK(a). The photocycle involves changes of one or both of these protonation states. Calculations of pK(a) values and protonation states using a semi-macroscopic electrostatic model are presented for the wild-type and three mutants, in both the ground state and the bleached (I(2)) intermediate state. Calculations allowing multiple H-bonding arrangements around the chromophore also have been carried out. In addition, ground-state pK(a) values of the chromophore have been measured by UV-visible spectroscopy for the wild-type and the same three mutants. Because of the unusual protonation states and strong electrostatic interactions, PYP represents a severe test of the ability of theoretical models to yield correct calculations of electrostatic interactions in proteins. Good agreement between experiment and theory can be obtained for the ground state provided the protein interior is assumed to have a relatively low dielectric constant, but only partial agreement between theory and experiment is obtained for the bleached state. We also present a reinterpretation of previously published data on the pH-dependence of the recovery of the ground state from the bleached state. The new analysis implies a pK(a) value of 6.37 for Glu46 in the bleached state, which is consistent with other available experimental data, including data that only became available after this analysis. The new analysis suggests that signal transduction is modulated by the titration properties of the bleached state, which are in turn determined by electrostatic interactions. Overall, the results of this study provide a quantitative picture of the interactions responsible for the unusual protonation states of the chromophore and Glu46, and of protonation changes upon bleaching.