Recently we found that CYP4B1, and several other members of the CYP4 family of enzymes, are covalently linked to their prosthetic heme group through an ester linkage. In the current study, we mutated a conserved CYP4 I-helix residue, E310 in rabbit CYP4B1, to glycine, alanine, and aspartate to examine the effect of these mutations on the extent of covalent heme binding and catalysis. All mutants expressed well in insect cells and were isolated as a mixture of monomeric and dimeric forms as determined by LC/ESI-MS of the intact proteins. Rates of metabolism decreased in the order E310 > A310 >> G310 > D310, with the A310 and G310 mutants exhibiting alterations in regioselectivity for omega-1 and omega-2 hydroxylation of lauric acid, respectively. In marked contrast to the wild-type E310 enzyme, the G310, A310, and D310 mutants did not bind heme covalently. Uniquely, the acid-dissociable heme obtained from the D310 mutant contained an additional 16 amu relative to heme and exhibited the same chromatographic behavior as the monohydroxyheme species released upon base treatment of the covalently linked wild-type enzyme. Expression studies with H(2)(18)O demonstrated incorporation of the heavy isotope from the media into the monohydroxyheme isolated from the D310 mutant at a molar ratio of approximately 0.8:1. These data show (i) that E310 serves as the site of covalent attachment of heme to the protein backbone of rabbit CYP4B1; (ii) this I-helix glutamate residue influences substrate orientation in the active site of CYP4B1; and (iii) the mechanism of covalent heme attachment most likely involves a carbocation species located on the porphyrin.