Opossum methemoglobin differs from methemoglobin A in spectral, spin state, conformational and chemical properties. The primary structural alterations in opossum hemoglobin, including the critical substitution at alpha 58 (E7) His leads to Gln result in the following properties. (a) Major contribution of the spectral transitions due to inositol hexakisphosphate binding arises from the alpha chains. (b) The aquomet to hydroxymet (high-spin to low-spin) transition as a function of pH is slightly retarded resulting in considerable high spin at alkaline pH. (c) The tertiary conformation (t) around the beta hemes, upon transition to a T quaternary state, differs from the known hemoglobin t tertiary structure. (d) Both alpha and beta hemes are susceptible to rapid reduction by ascorbic acid (the reduction rate being tenfold faster than that of methemoglobin A). These properties suggest that the heme environments in both the alpha and beta subunits of opossum hemoglobin are different from those of human hemoglobin A.