Site-directed mutants of prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase-2 (PGHS-2) with changes in the peroxidase active site were prepared by mutagenesis, expressed in Sf-9 cells, and purified to homogeneity. The distal histidine, His193, was mutated to alanine and the distal glutamine, Gln189, was changed to asparagine, valine, and arginine. The guaiacol peroxidase activities of H193A, Q189V, and Q189R were drastically reduced to levels observed in the absence of protein; only Q189N retained wild-type PGHS-2 (wtPGHS-2) activity. The mechanism of hydroperoxide reduction by the PGHS-2 mutants was investigated using 15-hydroperoxyeicosatetraenoic acid (15-HPETE), a diagnostic probe of hydroperoxide reduction pathways. The hydroperoxide reduction activity of Q189V and Q189R was reduced to that of free Fe(III) protoporphyrin IX levels, whereas Q189N catalyzed more reduction events than wtPGHS-2. The percentage of two-electron reduction events was identical for wtPGHS-2 and Q189N. The number of hydroperoxide reductions catalyzed by H193A was reduced to approximately 60% of wtPGHS-2 activity, but the majority of products were the one-electron reduction products, 15-KETE and epoxyalcohols. Thus, mutation of the distal histidine to alanine leads to a change in the mechanism of hydroperoxide reduction. Reaction of wtPGHS-2, Q189N, and H193A with varying concentrations of 15-HPETE revealed a change in product profile that suggests that 15-HPETE can compete with the reducing substrate for oxidation by the peroxidase higher oxidation state, compound I. The ability of the PGHS-2 proteins to catalyze two-electron hydroperoxide reduction correlated with the activation of cyclooxygenase activity. The reduced ability of H193A to catalyze two-electron hydroperoxide reduction resulted in a substantial lag phase in the cyclooxygenase assay. The addition of 2-methylimidazole chemically reconstituted the two-electron hydroperoxide reduction activity of H193A and abolished the cyclooxygenase lag phase. These observations are consistent with the involvement of the two-electron oxidized peroxidase intermediate, compound I, as the mediator of the activation of the cyclooxygenase of PGHS.