Catechol O-methyltransferase (COMT, EC 220.127.116.11) from human brain occurs in both a membrane-bound (MB-COMT) and a soluble form (SOL-COMT). While these enzymes appear to be distinct molecular entities, both catalyze the O-methylation of catecholamines through an ordered reaction mechanism in which S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) is the leading substrate [Rivett, A. J., & Roth, J. A. (1982) Biochemistry 21, 1740-1742; Jeffery, D. R., & Roth, J. A. (1985) J. Neurochem. 44, 881-885]. Both MB-COMT and SOL-COMT require the presence of divalent cations for catalytic activity. This series of experiments provides evidence indicating that magnesium ions bind to both MB-COMT and SOL-COMT in a rapid equilibrium sequence prior to the addition of SAM. An equation is presented that predicts the qualitative results obtained in all kinetic experiments carried out with either MB-COMT or SOL-COMT.