A significant specific increase in the actin carbonyl content has been recently demonstrated in human brain regions severely affected by the Alzheimer's disease pathology, in postischemic isolated rat hearts, and in human intestinal cell monolayers following incubation with hypochlorous acid (HOCl). We have very recently shown that exposure of actin to HOCl results in the immediate loss of Cys-374 thiol, oxidation of some methionine residues, and, at higher molar ratios of oxidant to protein, increase in protein carbonyl groups, associated with filament disruption and inhibition of filament formation. In the present work, we have studied the effect of methionine oxidation induced by chloramine-T (CT), which at neutral or slightly alkaline pH oxidizes preferentially Met and Cys residues, on actin filament formation and stability utilizing actin blocked at Cys-374. Methionines at positions 44, 47, and 355, which are the most solvent-exposed methionyl residues in the actin molecule, were found to be the most susceptible to oxidation to the sulfoxide derivative. Met-176, Met-190, Met-227, and Met-269 are the other sites of the oxidative modification. The increase in fluorescence associated with the binding of 8-anilino-1-naphtalene sulfonic acid to hydrophobic regions of the protein reveals that actin surface hydrophobicity increases with oxidation, indicating changes in protein conformation. Structural alterations were confirmed by the decreased susceptibility to proteolysis and by urea denaturation curves. Oxidation of some critical methionines (those at positions 176, 190, and 269) causes a complete inhibition of actin polymerization and severely affects the stability of actin filaments, which rapidly depolymerize. The present results would indicate that the oxidation of some critical methionines disrupts specific noncovalent interactions that normally stabilize the structure of actin filaments. We suggest that the process involving formation of actin carbonyl derivatives would occur at an extent of oxidative insult higher than that causing the oxidation of some critical methionine residues. Therefore, methionine oxidation could be a damaging event preceding the appearance of carbonyl groups on actin and a major cause for the functional impairment of the carbonylated protein recently observed both in vivo and in vitro.