The kinetics of folding of a tryptophan containing mutant of the IgG binding domain of protein L were characterized using stopped-flow circular dichroism, stopped-flow fluorescence, and HD exchange coupled with high-resolution mass spectrometry. Both the thermodynamics and kinetics of folding fit well to a simple two-state model: (1) Guanidine induced equilibrium denaturation transitions measured by fluorescence and circular dichroism were virtually superimposable. (2) The kinetics of folding/unfolding were single exponential under all conditions examined, and the rate constants obtained using all probes were similar. (3) Mass spectra from pulsed HD exchange refolding experiments showed that a species with very little protection from exchange is converted to a fully protected species (the native state) at a rate very similar to that of the overall change in tryptophan fluorescence; no intervening partially protected species were observed. (4) Rate constants (in H2O) and m values for folding and unfolding determined by fitting observed relaxation rates obtained over a broad range of denaturant concentrations to a two-state model were consistent with the equilibrium parameters deltaG and m: -RT ln(k(u)/k(f))/deltaG(U)H2O = 1.02; (m(u) + m(f))/m = 1.08. In contrast to results with a number of other proteins, there was no deviation from linearity in plots of ln k(obs) versus guanidine at low guanidine concentrations, both in the presence and absence of 0.4 M Na2SO4, suggesting that significantly stabilized intermediates do not accumulate during folding. Although all of the change in fluorescence signal during folding in phosphate buffer was accounted for by the simple exponential describing the overall folding reaction, fluorescence-quenching experiments using sodium iodide revealed a small reduction in the extent of quenching of the protein within the first two milliseconds after initiation of refolding in low concentrations of guanidine, suggesting a partial collapse of the unfolded chain may occur under these conditions. Comparison with results on the structurally and functionally similar IgG binding domain of streptococcal protein G show intriguing differences in the folding of the two proteins.