The presence of at least two ionizable active center groups has been detected by a study of the effect of pH upon catalysis of hydrolysis of L-alanyl-beta-naphthylamide by human liver alanine aminopeptidase and upon the inhibition of hydrolysis by inhibitors and substrate analogs. Octanoic acid, octylamine, and peptide inhibitors have been found to be competitive inhibitors and are therefore thought to bind the active center. L-Phe was previously shown to bind the active center since it was found to be a competitive inhibitor of the hydrolysis of tripeptide substrates (Garner, C. W., and Behal, F. J. (1975), Biochemistry 14, 3208). A plot of pKm vs. pH for the substrate L-Ala-beta-naphthylamide showed that binding decreased below pH 5.9 and above 7.5, the points at which the theoretical curve undergoes an integral change in slope. These points are interpreted as the pKa either of substrate ionizable groups or binding-dependent enzyme active center groups. Similar plots of pKm vs. pH for L-alanyl-p-nitroanilide (as substrate) and pKi vs. pH for L-Leu-L-Leu-L-Leu and D-Leu-L-Tyr (as inhibitors) gave pairs fo pKa values of 5.8 and 7.4, 6.0 and 7.5, and 5.7 and 7.5, respectively. All the above substrates (and D-Leu-L-Tyr) have pKa values near 7.5; therefore, the binding-dependent group with a pKa value near 7.5 is possibly this substrate group. Similar plots of pKi vs. pH for the inhibitors L-Phe, L-Met, L-Leu, octylamine, and octanoic acid had only one bending point at 7.7, 7.6, 7.4, 6.3, and 5.9, respectively. Amino acid inhibitors, octylamine, and octanoic acid have no groups with pKa values between 5 and 9. These data indicate that there are two active center ionizable groups with pKa values of approximately 6.0 and 7.5 which are involved in substrate binding or inhibitory amino acid binding but not in catalysis since Vmax was constant at all pH values tested.