Hypusine synthesis in the eukaryotic initiation factor 5A is a unique two-step posttranslational modification. After deoxyhypusine is generated by the deoxyhypusine synthase, the deoxyhypusine hydroxylase (EC 18.104.22.168) catalyzes the formation of mature hypusine. A rapid assay for monitoring the deoxyhypusine hydroxylase activity was established, employing the oxidative cleavage of the hypusyl residue and subsequent extraction of the generated aldehydes. As metal ion chelators have been reported to inhibit the deoxyhypusine hydroxylase, the mechanism of this inhibition and the effect of transition metal ions on enzyme activity were investigated. A ferric ion appears to be essential for enzymatic activity, the inhibition of which is entirely attributed to the metal ion binding capacity of the chelators.