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A soluble hydrogenase has been isolated from Desulfovibrio desulfuricans (strain Norway 4) grown on Post-gate's medium. The enzyme differs significantly from a membrane-bound hydrogenase previously purified from the same organism grown on Starkey's medium. The enzyme consisted of two subunits of 56 kDa and 29 kDa compared with masses of 60 kDa and 27 kDa for the membrane-bound enzyme. Analysis of preparations of the soluble enzyme by various methods gave values of 5–10 iron atoms, 6 labile sulphur atoms and 0.45-0.8 nickel atom per molecule. The enzyme was unusual in that it contained selenium, in quantities equivalent to nickel. The highly purified active enzyme produced no electron-spin-resonance (ESR) signals in the oxidized state. ESR signals due to a [3Fe-xS] cluster and nickel were observed only in some of the less active fractions of the enzyme, demonstrating that neither of these ESR-detectable components is a prerequisite for hydrogenase activity. Treatment of D. desulfuricans (Norway) cells with EDTA released a minor fraction with hydrogenase activity, which might indicate the presence of a periplasmic enzyme.