Tyrosinase usually catalyzes the conversion of monophenols to o-diphenols and oxidation of diphenols to the corresponding quinones. However, when 3,4-dihydroxymandelic acid was provided as the substrate, it catalyzed an unusual oxidative decarboxylation reaction generating 3,4-dihydroxybenzaldehyde as the sole product. The identity of the product was confirmed by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) as well as ultraviolet and infrared spectral studies. None of the following enzymes tested catalyzed the new reaction: galactose oxidase, ceruloplasmin, superoxide dismutase, ascorbate oxidase, dopamine beta-hydroxylase, and peroxidase. Phenol oxidase inhibitors such as phenylthiourea, potassium cyanide, and sodium azide inhibited the reaction drastically, suggesting the participation of the active site copper of the enzyme in the catalysis. Mimosine, a well-known competitive inhibitor of tyrosinase, competitively inhibited the new reaction also. 4-Hydroxymandelic acid and 3-methoxy-4-hydroxymandelic acid neither served as substrates nor inhibited the reaction. Putative intermediates such as 3,4-dihydroxybenzyl alcohol and (3,4-dihydroxybenzoyl)formic acid did not accumulate during the reaction. Oxidation to a quinone methide derivative rather than conventional quinone accounts for this unusual oxidative decarboxylation reaction. Earlier from this laboratory, we reported the conversion of 4-alkylcatechols to quinone methides catalyzed by a cuticular phenol oxidase [Sugumaran, M., & Lipke, H. (1983) FEBS Lett. 155, 65-68]. Present studies demonstrate that mushroom tyrosinase will also catalyze quinone methide production with the same active site copper if a suitable substrate such as 3,4-dihydroxymandelic acid is provided.