Epidermal lipoxygenase-3 (eLOX3) exhibits hydroperoxide isomerase activity implicated in epidermal barrier formation, but its potential dioxygenase activity has remained elusive. We identified herein a synthetic fatty acid, 9E,11Z,14Z-20:3ω6, that was oxygenated by eLOX3 specifically to the 9S-hydroperoxide. Reaction showed a pronounced lag phase, which suggested that eLOX3 is deficient in its activation step. Indeed, we found that high concentrations of hydroperoxide activator (e.g. 65 μM) overcame a prolonged lag phase (>1 h) and unveiled a dioxygenase activity with arachidonic acid; the main products were the 5-, 9-, and 7-hydroperoxyeicosatetraenoic acids (HPETEs). These were R/S mixtures (ranging from ∼50:50 to 73:27), and as the bis-allylic 7-HPETE can be formed only inside the enzyme active site, the results indicate there is oxygen availability along either face of the reacting fatty acid radical. That the active site oxygen supply is limited is implied from the need for continuous re-activation, as carbon radical leakage leaves the enzyme in the unactivated ferrous state. An Ala-to-Gly mutation, known to affect the positioning of O(2) in the active site of other lipoxygenase enzymes, led to more readily activated reaction and a significant increase in the 9R- over the 5-HPETE. Activation and cycling of the ferric enzyme are thus promoted using the 9E,11Z,14Z-20:3ω6 substrate, by continuous hydroperoxide activation, or by the Ala-to-Gly mutation. We suggest that eLOX3 represents one end of a spectrum among lipoxygenases where activation is inefficient, favoring hydroperoxide isomerase cycling, with the opposite end represented by readily activated enzymes in which dioxygenase activity is prominent.