Reduction of methionine sulfoxide (MetO) residues in proteins is catalyzed by methionine sulfoxide reductases A (MSRA) and B (MSRB), which act in a stereospecific manner. Catalytic properties of these enzymes were previously established mostly using low molecular weight MetO-containing compounds, whereas little is known about the catalysis of MetO reduction in proteins, the physiological substrates of MSRA and MSRB. In this work we exploited an NADPH-dependent thioredoxin system and determined the kinetic parameters of yeast MSRA and MSRB using three different MetO-containing proteins. Both enzymes showed Michaelis-Menten kinetics with the K(m) lower for protein than for small MetO-containing substrates. MSRA reduced both oxidized proteins and low molecular weight MetO-containing compounds with similar catalytic efficiencies, whereas MSRB was specialized for the reduction of MetO in proteins. Using oxidized glutathione S-transferase as a model substrate, we showed that both MSR types were more efficient in reducing MetO in unfolded than in folded proteins and that their activities increased with the unfolding state. Biochemical quantification and identification of MetO reduced in the substrates by mass spectrometry revealed that the increased activity was due to better access to oxidized MetO in unfolded proteins; it also showed that MSRA was intrinsically more active with unfolded proteins regardless of MetO availability. Moreover, MSRs most efficiently protected cells from oxidative stress that was accompanied by protein unfolding. Overall, this study indicates that MSRs serve a critical function in the folding process by repairing oxidatively damaged nascent polypeptides and unfolded proteins.