The white rot fungus Pycnoporus cinnabarinus was characterized with respect to its set of extracellular phenoloxidases. Laccase was produced as the predominant extracellular phenoloxidase in conjunction with low amounts of an unusual peroxidase. Neither lignin peroxidase nor manganese peroxidase was detected. Laccase was produced constitutively during primary metabolism. Addition of the most effective inducer, 2,5-xylidine, enhanced laccase production ninefold without altering the isoenzyme pattern of the enzyme. Laccase purified to apparent homogeneity was a single polypeptide having a molecular mass of approximately 81,000 Da, as determined by calibrated gel filtration chromatography, and a carbohydrate content of 9%. The enzyme displayed an unusual behavior on isoelectric focusing gels; the activity was split into one major band (pI, 3.7) and several minor bands of decreasing intensity which appeared at regular, closely spaced intervals toward the alkaline end of the gel. Repeated electrophoresis of the major band under identical conditions produced the same pattern, suggesting that the laccase was secreted as a single acidic isoform with a pI of about 3.7 and that the multiband pattern was an artifact produced by electrophoresis. This appeared to be confirmed by N-terminal amino acid sequencing of the purified enzyme, which yielded a single sequence for the first 21 residues. Spectroscopic analysis indicated a typical laccase active site in the P. cinnabarinus enzyme since all three typical Cu(II)-type centers were identified. Substrate specificity and inhibitor studies also indicated the enzyme to be a typical fungal laccase. The N-terminal amino acid sequence of the P. cinnabarinus laccase showed close homology to the N-terminal sequences determined for laccases from Trametes versicolor, Coriolus hirsutus, and an unidentified basidiomycete, PM1. The principal features of the P. cinnabarinus enzyme system, a single predominant laccase and a lack of lignin- or manganese-type peroxidase, make this organism an interesting model for further studies of possible alternative pathways of lignin degradation by white rot fungi.