The kinetics and thermodynamics of the reaction of mixed valence state membrane-bound cytochrome oxidase with CO over the 178-203 K range has been studied by multichannel optical spectroscopy at three wavelength pairs (444-463 nm in the Soret region, and 590-630 and 608-630 nm in the alpha region) and analysed by non-linear optimization techniques. As in the case of the fully reduced membrane-bound cytochrome oxidase-CO reaction (Clore, G.M. and Chance, E.M. (1978) Biochem J. 175, 709-725), the normalized progress curves at the three wavelength pairs are significantly different indicating, on the basis of Beer's law, the presence of a minimum of three optically distinct species. The only model that satisfies the triple statistical requirement of a standard deviation within the standard error of the data, a random distribution of residuals and good determination of the optimized parameters, is a two species sequential mechanism: flash photolysis of the mixed valence state cytochrome oxidase-CO complex (species IIMC) yields unliganded mixed valence state cytochrome oxidase (species EM) and free CO which then recombine to form species IMC; species IMC is then converted into species IIMC. All the thermodynamic parameters describing the model are calculated and compared to those obtained for the fully reduced membrane-bound cytochrome oxidase-CO reaction (Clore and Chance (1978) Biochem. J. 175, 709-725). Although there are some qualitative similarities in the kinetics and thermodynamics of the reactions of mixed valence state (alpha 23+Cu+B.ALPHA 3+Cu2+A) and fully reduced (a3 2+Cu B + . a2+Cu A+) cytochrome oxidase with CO, there are large and significant quantitative differences in zero-point activation energies and frequency factors; over the temperature range studied, the mixed valence state cytochrome oxidase-CO reaction is found to proceed at a significantly slower rate than the fully reduced cytochrome oxidase-CO reaction. These differences indicate that changing the valence states of cytochrome a and CuA has a significant effect on the CO binding properties of cytochrome a 3 and possibly CuB.