Cysteine catabolism in mammals is dependent upon cysteine dioxygenase (CDO), an enzyme that adds molecular oxygen to the sulfur of cysteine, converting the thiol to a sulfinic acid known as cysteinesulfinic acid (3-sulfinoalanine). CDO is one of the most highly regulated metabolic enzymes responding to diet that is known. It undergoes up to 45-fold changes in concentration and up to 10-fold changes in catalytic efficiency. This provides a remarkable responsiveness of the cell to changes in sulfur amino acid availability: the ability to decrease CDO activity and conserve cysteine when cysteine is scarce and to rapidly increase CDO activity and catabolize cysteine to prevent cytotoxicity when cysteine supply is abundant. CDO in both liver and adipose tissues responds to changes in dietary intakes of protein and/or sulfur amino acids over a range that encompasses the requirement level, suggesting that cysteine homeostasis is very important to the living organism.