The zinc K-edge X-ray absorption spectra of the Fur (ferric uptake regulation) protein isolated from Escherichia coli have been analyzed in frozen solution to determine details of the zinc coordination. The spectra of apoFur and of the cobalt-substituted protein have been analyzed and compared in order to see the influence of the cobalt incorporation on the geometry of the zinc site. EXAFS analysis gave for both samples (apoFur and CoFur) a tetrahedral environment for the zinc atom with two sulfur donor ligands at a distance of 2.3 A from the zinc and two N/O donor ligands at 2.0 A. The two sulfur donor ligands are probably two of the four cysteines present in each Fur monomer and could be Cys92 and Cys95, which are known from mutagenesis studies to be essential for Fur activity [Coy, M., Doyle, C., Besser, J., and Neilands, J. B. (1994) BioMetals 7, 292-298]. The distances obtained from our fits were always too short to be compatible with penta or hexa coordination. The typical pattern observed for the Fourier transform of the EXAFS oscillations suggests the presence of at least one imidazole ligand. The XANES of these two forms of the protein are similar but significantly different. This suggests a change of the conformation of the zinc site upon cobalt incorporation. The present study provides the first unambiguous evidence for the presence of a structural zinc site in the Fur protein from Escherichia coli.