Pseudomonas pseudoalcaligenes JS45 grows on nitrobenzene as a sole source of carbon, nitrogen, and energy. The catabolic pathway involves reduction to hydroxylaminobenzene followed by rearrangement to o-amino-phenol and ring fission (S. F. Nishino and J. C. Spain, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 59:2520, 1993). A nitrobenzene-inducible, oxygen-insensitive nitroreductase was purified from extracts of JS45 by ammonium sulfate precipitation followed by anion-exchange and gel filtration chromatography. A single 33-kDa polypeptide was detected by denaturing gel electrophoresis. The size of the native protein was estimated to be 30 kDa by gel filtration. The enzyme is a flavoprotein with a tightly bound flavin mononucleotide cofactor in a ratio of 2 mol of flavin per mol of protein. The Km for nitrobenzene is 5 microM at an initial NADPH concentration of 0.5 mM. The Km for NADPH at an initial nitrobenzene concentration of 0.1 mM is 183 microM. Nitrosobenzene was not detected as an intermediate of nitrobenzene reduction, but nitrosobenzene is a substrate for the enzyme, and the specific activity for nitrosobenzene is higher than that for nitrobenzene. These results suggest that nitrosobenzene is formed but is immediately reduced to hydroxylaminobenzene. Hydroxylaminobenzene was the only product detected after incubation of the purified enzyme with nitrobenzene and NADPH. Hydroxylaminobenzene does not serve as a substrate for further reduction by this enzyme. The products and intermediates are consistent with two two-electron reductions of the parent compound. Furthermore, the low Km and the inducible control of enzyme synthesis suggest that nitrobenzene is the physiological substrate for this enzyme.