Vertebrate trypsins usually contain six disulfide bonds but human trypsin 1 (PRSS1) contains only five and human trypsin 2 (PRSS2) contains only four. To elucidate possible evolutionary pathways leading to the loss of disulfide bonds, we have constructed mutants lacking one or two cysteines of four disulfide bonds (C22-C157, C127-C232, C136-C201, and C191-C220) in rat anionic trypsinogen and followed their expression in the periplasm of Escherichia coli. When both cysteines of any of the above-mentioned disulfide bonds were replaced by alanines we found, as expected, proteolytically active enzymes. In the case of C127-C232 (missing from both human trypsins) and C191-C220 both single mutants gave active enzymes although their yield was significantly reduced. In contrast, only one of the single mutants of disulfide bonds C22-C157 and C136-C201 (missing from human trypsin 2) was expressed in E. coli. In the case of these disulfide bonds, we obtained no expression when the solvent accessible molecular surface of the free cysteine residue was the smaller one, indicating that a buried unpaired cysteine was more deleterious than one on the surface of the molecule.