Homogeneous preparations of the glutathione transferases from rat liver have been tested for their ability to catalyze a number of diverse nucleophilic reactions of GSH. Although disulfide interchange with GSSG or L-cystine, and cis-trans isomerization of maleic acid, are clearly promoted by thiols in solution, the reactions were not catalyzed by the glutathione transferases. In contrast, certain more hydrophobic analogs of these compounds were found to serve as substrates. The transferases also catalyze the glutathione-dependent release of p-nitrophenol from p-nitrophenyl acetate and p-nitrophenyl trimethylacetate. These observations are consistent with the formulation that catalysis may result from close juxtaposition of sufficiently electrophilic, nonpolar compounds with GSH on the enzyme surface.