Acetyl-CoA synthetase (ACS) catalyses the activation of acetate to acetyl-CoA in the presence of ATP and CoA. The gene encoding Bradyrhyzobium japonicum ACS has been cloned, sequenced, and expressed in Escherichia coli. The enzyme comprises 648 amino acid residues with a calculated molecular mass of 71,996 Da. The recombinant enzyme was also purified from the transformed E. coli. The enzyme was essentially indistinguishable from the ACS of B. japonicum bacteroids as to the criteria of polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and biochemical properties. Based on the results of database analysis, Gly-263, Gly-266, Lys-269, and Glu-414 were selected for site-directed mutagenesis in order to identify amino acid residues essential for substrate binding and/or catalysis. Four different mutant enzymes (G263I, G266I, K269G, and E414Q) were prepared and then subjected to steady-state kinetic studies. The kinetic data obtained for the mutants suggest that Gly-266 and Lys-269 participate in the formation of acetyl-AMP, whereas Glu-414 may play a role in acetate binding.