The binding of Cu(II) to native human, porcine, bovine and ovine ceruloplasmin (Cp) and to bovine serum albumin (bSA) has been studied at pH 7.4, 30 mM barbital buffer. The results were analyzed for the strength and the number of binding sites using Scatchard plots. Evidence for additional copper binding sites in Cp and bSA was obtained suggesting a role for copper ion in the homeostatic regulation of Cu(II) and other metal ions in the serum. In the binding studies the Cp was freed of exogenous Cu(II) by passing it over a Chelex-100 column. Two flow rates were used, 4 ml/hr and 40 ml/hr, which removed Cu(II) of different affinities. Cp passed at the slower flow rate (Cp4) only contained the prosthetic copper atoms. Cp passed at the faster flow rate (Cp40) contained one additional copper atom with a Ka approximately 10(7) M-1. Another 2-6 Cu(II) ion could be added to the Cp40 with an average affinity of about Ka approximately 10(5) M-1. The Cu(II) ions found in Cp provide two distinguishable classes: (1) the prosthetic copper atoms and (2) the exogenous copper atoms that can be removed by Chelex-100. For bSA one copper atom was bound strongly with a Ka value approaching 10(12) - 10(13) M-1 and was not removed by Chelex-100 at any flow rate. A second copper atom was found with a Ka = 5.2 x 10(6) M-1 and was removed by Chelex-100 at 4 ml/hr. Three additional copper atoms were bound with a Ka = 1.6 x 10(5) M-1; they were readily removed by Chelex-100 at 40 ml/hr but were nondialysable.