The plant enzyme hevamine has both chitinase and lysozyme activity. HPLC analysis of the products of the hydrolysis of chitopentaose shows that hevamine acts with retention of the configuration, despite the absence of a nucleophilic or stabilizing carboxylate. To analyze the stabilization of a putative oxocarbonium ion intermediate, the X-ray structure of hevamine complexed with the inhibitor allosamidin was determined at 1.85 A resolution. This structure supports the role of Glu127 as a proton donor. The allosamizoline group binds in the center of the active site, mimicking a reaction intermediate in which a positive charge at C1 is stabilized intramolecularly by the carbonyl oxygen of the N-acetyl group at C2.