Single turnover and equilibrium binding measurements on the interaction of Gly-12 and Pro-12 Ras.GTP with the catalytic domains of the GTPase-activating proteins, p120-GAP and neurofibromin, have been made utilizing fluorescent 2'(3')O-(N-methylanthraniloyl)-nucleotides. These have enabled the equilibrium dissociation constants (Kd) for their initial binding and the rate constants of the hydrolysis step to be measured. p120-GAP binds to both Ras proteins with a Kd of 17 microM, whereas neurofibromin binds to both Ras proteins with a Kd of 1 microM. Both p120-GAP and neurofibromin increased the rate constant of the GTP hydrolysis step of Pro-12 Ras, but the maximal activation at 30 degrees C was 120-fold and 560-fold, as compared with 70,000- and 52,000-fold, with Gly-12 Ras. The affinity with which p120-GAP and neurofibromin binds to either Gly-12 or Pro-12 Ras protein was decreased dramatically by increasing ionic strength caused by addition of NaCl. The rate constant of the cleavage step of hydrolysis catalyzed by neurofibromin increases with increasing ionic strength, whereas that catalyzed by p120-GAP appears to be unaffected. The high ionic strength within the cell might result in a much lower overall GTPase-activating protein activity than is measured under conditions of low ionic strength in vitro, with p120-GAP being more severely inhibited. The GTP hydrolysis rate of Pro-12 Ras is 2-fold faster than that of normal Ras. The low oncogenicity of Pro-12 ras is explained by a model in which the intrinsic rates of hydrolysis and exchange, as well as GTPase-activating protein- and exchange factor-stimulated rates, are determinants of the biological activity of Ras proteins in fibroblasts.