We have studied samples of oxidized (as isolated) cytochrome c1aa3 from Thermus thermophilus in the pH range 5.7 to 9.3 with Mössbauer spectroscopy. In this pH range, the spectra of cytochromes c1 and a are independent of pH, whereas the spectra of cytochrome a3 are not. Most importantly, spectra taken in applied fields up to 6.0 T reveal the presence of multiple ferric forms of cytochrome a3. At any given pH value, at least two high-spin ferric cytochrome a3 species can be distinguished; in addition, most samples contain a low-spin ferric cytochrome a3 species (less than 20% of cytochrome a3). The Mössbauer spectra show clearly that all forms of cytochrome a3 are spin coupled (to CuB). We have analyzed the high field (H greater than or equal to 1.5 tesla) spectra of a sample at pH 6.5 in the framework of a model that considers isotropic exchange-coupling, JS1.S2, between a high-spin ferric (S1 = 5/2) cytochrome a3 and cupric CuB (S2 = 1/2). In strong applied fields, the spectra can be fitted with any value for J greater than or equal to 0.5 cm-1. In the strong coupling case (J/D1 approximately greater than 3), a zero field splitting parameter D1 approximately 2.5 cm-1 is required for cytochrome a3; this value is distinctly smaller than those observed for high-spin ferric hemes (4-20 cm-1). A model assuming weak coupling magnitude of J approximately 1 cm-1, yields D1 approximately 8 cm-1 and a parameter set for cytochrome a3 quite similar to that reported for metmyoglobin. A J-value of approximately 1 cm-1 does not demand the presence of a ligand bridging between cytochrome a3 and CuB.