The fungal parasite Rhizoctonia leguminicola produces two indolizidine alkaloids, slaframine and swainsonine, of physiological interest. These alkaloids are biosynthesized from pipecolic acid which in turn is derived from L-lysine in this fungus as shown in the accompanying paper (Wickwire, B.M., Harris, C.M., Harris, T.M., and Broquist, H.P. (1989) J. Biol. Chem. 265, 14742-14747): L-lysine----saccharopine----delta 1----piperideine-6- carboxylate----pipecolate. This paper concerns the discovery, purification, and properties of a flavoenzyme, termed saccharopine oxidase, which carries out the oxidative cleavage of saccharopine as follows: Saccharopine + O2----delta 1-piperidine-6-carboxylate + glutamate + H2O2 The enzyme was purified 2,000-fold to homogeneity (polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis) in 14% yield from R. leguminicola mycelia, and had a native molecular mass of about 45,000 daltons by gel filtration (fast protein liquid chromatography Superose). Evidence for the presence of a flavin in the enzyme was drawn from these considerations: (a) the enzyme, while oxidatively cleaving saccharopine, concomitantly reduces 2,6-dichlorophenolindophenol; (b) the purified enzyme has a fluorescence spectrum typical of flavins; and (c) the enzyme requires oxygen and produces hydrogen peroxide. Good correlation was shown with purified saccharopine oxidase between disappearance of saccharopine with the concomitant appearance of delta 1-piperideine-6-carboxylate plus glutamate. The enzyme has a pH optimum about 6 and a Km for saccharopine of 0.128 mM. The enzyme apparently exists in R. leguminicola to shunt saccharopine, a major lysine metabolite, into a secondary pathway of lysine metabolism leading to pipecolate and subsequently to slaframine and swainsonine.