A series of two-dimensional (2D) correlated 1H NMR spectra of reduced and oxidized Escherichia coli thioredoxin have been used to probe the effects of pH in the vicinity of the active site, -Cys32-Gly-Pro-Cys35-, using the complete proton resonance assignments available for thioredoxin. In either oxidation state, the majority of residues of the thioredoxin molecule remain unchanged between pH 5.7 and pH 10, as indicated by the identical chemical shifts of the C alpha H, C beta H, and other protons. In reduced thioredoxin, a fairly widespread region around the active-site dithiol is affected by the titration of a group or groups with pKa approximately 7.1-7.4 in 2H2O. Another titration, with pKa approximately 8.4, affects a smaller region of the protein. Oxidized thioredoxin contains a disulfide and no free thiol groups; nevertheless, the proton resonances of many groups in the active-site region were observed to titrate with a pKa of 7.5, probably as a result of an abnormally high pKa value for the carboxyl group of the buried Asp-26 residue. For reduced thioredoxin, the results indicate that Asp-26 is titrating in this pH range, as well as both thiol groups. The new results are strongly suggestive that the mechanism of thioredoxin-catalyzed protein disulfide reduction may be critically dependent on proton transfer as well as electron transfer within the active site.