Ribonuclease (RNase) T2 from Aspergillus oryzae was modified by diethyl pyrocarbonate and iodoacetic acid. RNase T2 was rapidly inactivated by diethyl pyrocarbonate above pH 6.0 and by incorporation of a carboxymethyl group. No inactivation occurred in the presence of 3'AMP. 1H-NMR titration and photo-chemically induced dynamic nuclear polarization experiments demonstrated that two histidine residues were involved in the active site of RNase T2. Furthermore, analysis of inactive carboxymethylated RNase T2 showed that both His53 and His115 were partially modified to yield a total of one mole of N tau-carboxymethylhistidine/mole enzyme. The results indicate that the two histidine residues in the active site of RNase T2 are essential for catalysis and that modification of either His53 or His115 inactivates the enzyme.