Human P450 2A6 displays a small active site that is well adapted for the oxidation of small planar substrates. Mutagenesis of CYP2A6 resulted in an increased catalytic efficiency for indole biotransformation to pigments and conferred a capacity to oxidize substituted indoles (Wu, Z.-L., Podust, L.M., Guengerich, F.P. J. Biol. Chem. 49 (2005) 41090-41100.). Here, we describe the structural basis that underlies the altered metabolic profile of three mutant enzymes, P450 2A6 N297Q, L240C/N297Q and N297Q/I300V. The Asn297 substitution abolishes a potential hydrogen bonding interaction with substrates in the active site, and replaces a structural water molecule between the helix B'-C region and helix I while maintaining structural hydrogen bonding interactions. The structures of the P450 2A6 N297Q/L240C and N297Q/I300V mutants provide clues as to how the protein can adapt to fit the larger substituted indoles in the active site, and enable a comparison with other P450 family 2 enzymes for which the residue at the equivalent position was seen to function in isozyme specificity, structural integrity and protein flexibility.