Renin is an unique aspartyl (acid) protease with optimal activity at neutral pH. It has been suggested that Ala-317 of human renin contributes to neutral optimum pH of the enzyme [(1984) FEBS Lett. 174, 102-111]. The hypothesis was verified by the characterization of mutant renin in which Ala-317 was replaced with Asp by a site-directed mutagenesis. Wild-type and mutant renins, which were expressed in COS cells, exhibited different pH-activity profiles and optimum pH of the mutant enzyme was lower than that of the wild-type enzyme. This result suggests that Ala-317 of human renin plays an important role in the determination of optimum pH of the enzyme.