Kinetic data show that the irreversible inactivation of liver 2-keto-4-hydroxyglutarate aldolase observed when the enzyme is incubated with an aldehydic substrate (or substrate analogue) in the presence of cyanide is a biphasic process and can, under certain conditions, involve a direct interaction between the enzyme and cyanide. The kinetic data are consistent with a scheme consisting of three competing reactions: (1) irreversible addition of cyanide to the enzyme-substrate Schiff base intermediate, (2) reversible cyanohydrin formation between cyanide and the aldehydic substrate (or substrate analogue), and (3) an interaction of cyanide with the enzyme which is not substrate dependent. Approximately 0.4 mol of cyanide is associated with 1 mol (120 000 g) of enzyme when 2-keto-4-hydroxyglutarate aldolase is incubated with [14-C]-cyanide followed by exhaustive dialysis; an ionic attachment possibly at a carboxylate binding site, is suggested. Whereas native enzyme, not treated with cyanide, has ten Nbs2-titratable sulfhydryl groups, approximately one less such group reacts with Nbs2 when the aldolase is incubated with cyanide (in the absence of aldehydic substrate). It is suggested that the binding of cyanide results in a conformational change of the enzyme; conformational changes in the presence of cyanide are confirmed by circular dichroism spectra.