Aminopeptidase A is a zinc metalloenzyme that generates brain angiotensin III, which exerts a tonic stimulatory action on blood pressure in hypertensive animals. We have previously constructed a three-dimensional model of the ectodomain of this enzyme, using the crystal structure of leukotriene A4 hydrolase/aminopeptidase as a template. According to this model, Glu-215, which is located in the active site, hydrogen bonds to the amino moiety of the inhibitor, 4-amino-4-phosphonobutyric acid (GluPhos), a phosphonic acid anologue of glutamic acid. Replacement of this residue with an aspartate or an alanine in the model abolished this interaction and led to a change in the position of the inhibitor in the active site. Mutagenic replacement of Glu-215 with an aspartate or an alanine drastically reduced the affinity of the recombinant enzymes for the substrate by a factor of 10 or 17, respectively, and the rate of hydrolysis by a factor of 14 or 6, respectively. Two isomers of GluPhos with different N-terminal amine positions differed considerably in their ability to inhibit the wild type (by a factor of 40), but not the mutated enzymes. These results, together with the interaction predicted by the model, demonstrate that Glu-215 interacts with the N-terminal amine of the substrate, thereby contributing, together with Glu-352, to the determination of the exopeptidase specificity of aminopeptidase A.