A series of equilibrium and kinetic measurements involving the oxidation-reduction properties of purified rat liver NADPH-cytochrome P-450 reductase and eight different purified rat liver cytochromes P-450 (P-450s) were carried out. Apparent spin states of P-450 iron were determined in the absence and presence of a number of known substrates by using second-derivative and conventional near-UV absorbance spectroscopy. Many of the substrates examined did not produce significant changes in the apparent iron spin state, even when binding could be demonstrated with equilibrium dialysis. Further, the spin state was not correlated to catalytic activity of the P-450s in reconstituted enzyme systems. The oxidation-reduction potentials were determined for the ferric/ferrous couples of each of the eight P-450s in the presence and absence of known substrates, as well as other proteins suspected of altering the potentials. The midpoint potential (Em,7) ranged from -350 to -289 mV for the P-450s under these conditions. In some cases Em,7 was raised with the addition of substrates, but the extent of the increase was no greater than +33 mV. The Em,7 of one P-450 (P-450 beta NF/ISF-G) was not changed significantly when the fraction of high-spin iron varied between 11 and 67%. Steady-state spectral studies provided evidence for the accumulation of an oxygenated ferrous intermediate (or a derived product) of one P-450 (P-450PB-B) in the presence of a substrate, cyclohexane. Studies on the donation of electrons from cytochrome b5 and a series of dyes to this complex suggest that it has an effective Em,7 (for reduction) of approximately +50 mV. In studies with one of the P-450s, steady-state spectral studies indicated that the three-electron-reduced form of NADPH-P-450 reductase accumulates, consistent with the view that this form of the reductase is involved in the reduction of P-450 from the ferric to the ferrous state.