Some basil varieties are able to convert the phenylpropenes chavicol and eugenol to methylchavicol and methyleugenol, respectively. Chavicol O-methyltransferase (CVOMT) and eugenol O-methyltransferase (EOMT) cDNAs were isolated from the sweet basil variety EMX-1 using a biochemical genomics approach. These cDNAs encode proteins that are 90% identical to each other and very similar to several isoflavone O-methyltransferases such as IOMT, which catalyzes the 4'-O-methylation of 2,7,4'-trihydroxyisoflavanone. On the other hand, CVOMT1 and EOMT1 are related only distantly to (iso)eugenol OMT from Clarkia breweri, indicating that the eugenol O-methylating enzymes in basil and C. breweri evolved independently. Transcripts for CVOMT1 and EOMT1 were highly expressed in the peltate glandular trichomes on the surface of the young basil leaves. The CVOMT1 and EOMT1 cDNAs were expressed in Escherichia coli, and active proteins were produced. CVOMT1 catalyzed the O-methylation of chavicol, and EOMT1 also catalyzed the O-methylation of chavicol with equal efficiency to that of CVOMT1, but it was much more efficient in O-methylating eugenol. Molecular modeling, based on the crystal structure of IOMT, suggested that a single amino acid difference was responsible for the difference in substrate discrimination between CVOMT1 and EOMT1. This prediction was confirmed by site-directed mutagenesis, in which the appropriate mutants of CVOMT1 (F260S) and EOMT1 (S261F) were produced that exhibited the opposite substrate preference relative to the respective native enzyme.