Cytochrome c functions as an electron carrier in the mitochondrial electron-transport chain using the Fe(II)-Fe(III) redox couple of a covalently attached heme prosthetic group, and it has served as a paradigm for both biological redox activity and protein folding. On the basis of a wide variety of biophysical techniques, it has been suggested that the protein is more flexible in the oxidized state than in the reduced state, which has led to speculation that it is the dynamics of the protein that has been evolved to control the cofactor's redox properties. To test this hypothesis, we incorporated carbon-deuterium bonds throughout cytochrome c and characterized their absorption frequencies and line widths using IR spectroscopy. The absorption frequencies of several residues on the proximal side of the heme show redox-dependent changes, but none show changes in line width, implying that the flexibility of the oxidized and reduced proteins is not different. However, the spectra demonstrate that folded protein is in equilibrium with a surprisingly large amount of locally unfolded protein, which increases with oxidation for residues localized to the proximal side of the heme. The data suggest that while the oxidized protein is not more flexible than the reduced protein, it is more locally unfolded. Local unfolding of cytochrome c might be one mechanism whereby the protein evolved to control electron transfer.