By site-directed mutagenesis, TEM-1 beta-lactamase was altered to contain single amino acid changes of E104K, R164S, and E240K, in addition to double changes of E104K/R164S or R164S/E240K and the triple change of E104K/R164S/E240K. Hydrolysis rates for cephaloridine and benzylpenicillin were lowered at least 1 order of magnitude for all enzymes containing R164S substitutions. All mutant enzymes exhibited increased kcat values for beta-lactam antibiotics containing an aminothiazole oxime side chain. Hydrolysis of ceftazidime was most affected, with kcat values increased 3-4 orders of magnitude in all enzymes with the substituted R164S moiety. Km values decreased for all substrates except ceftazidime in the enzymes with multiple mutations. Aztreonam was most affected, with Km values lowered 23-56-fold in the enzymes bearing multiple mutations. When the crystal structures of aztreonam and related monobactams were studied and projected into an active-site model of the PC1 beta-lactamase, it became apparent that the two lysine residues might serve equivalent roles by interacting with the carboxylate of the aminothiazole oxime side chain. Hydrogen-bonding interactions involving the oxime and N7 of the lysine, particularly Lys-104, may also be important in some antibiotics. Ser-164 apparently serves an indirect role, since it is somewhat distant from the active-site cleft.