Downregulation of small guanine nucleotide-binding proteins (GNBPs) requires the interaction with their corresponding GTPase-activating proteins (GAPs), which increase the slow intrinsic GTPase reaction by several orders of magnitude. On the basis of the structure of H-Ras in complex with the catalytic domain of p120-GAP, we have developed a set of site-specifically labelled Ras-variants, one of which turned out to be particularly sensitive for studying the interaction with Ras-specific GAPs. This specific fluorescent reporter group and the use of manganese to increase the rate of the chemical reaction step allowed us to identify differences in the rate-limiting step of either the GAP-334 or NF1-333 catalyzed reaction. The assay was also applied to study the interaction of the Ras-related protein Rap1B with Rap1GAP, for which no detailed kinetic analysis was available. Single-turnover experiments of this reaction show that the low affinity of the complex (50 microM) is due to a slow association rate as well as a fast dissociation rate. RapGAP promotes AlFx binding to Rap1B, even though it does not contain a catalytic arginine. The rate-limiting step of the RapGAP catalysed reaction is release of inorganic phosphate, which is about five times slower than the chemical cleavage step. Our data reveal marked differences in GAP/target interactions even between closely related systems and suggest that the fluorescent reporter group method might be generally applicable to many other GNBPs and their cognate GAPs.