The dynamics and the spectra of the excited state of the retinal in bacteriorhodopsin (bR) and its K-intermediate at pH 0 was compared with that of bR and halorhodopsin at pH 6.5. The quantum yield of photoisomerization in acid purple bR was estimated to be at least 0.5. The change of pH from 6.5 to 2 causes a shift of the absorption maximum from 568 to 600 nm (acid blue bR) and decreases the rate of photoisomerization. A further decrease in pH from 2 to 0 shifts the absorption maximum back to 575 nm when HCl is used (acid purple bR). We found that the rate of photoisomerization increases when the pH decreases from 2 to 0. The effect of chloride anions on the dynamics of the retinal photoisomerization of acid bR (pH 2 and 0) and some mutants (D85N, D212N, and R82Q) was also studied. The addition of 1 M HCl (to make acid purple bR, pH 0) or 1 M NaCl to acid blue bR (pH 2) was found to catalyze the rate of the retinal photoisomerization process. Similarly, the addition of 1 M NaCl to the solution of some bR mutants that have a reduced rate of retinal photoisomerization (D85N, D212N, and R82Q) was found to catalyze the rate of their retinal photoisomerization process up to the value observed in wild-type bR. These results are explained by proposing that the bound Cl- compensates for the loss of the negative charges of the COO- groups of Asp85 and/or Asp212 either by neutralization at low pH or by residue replacement in D85N and D212N mutants.