Recent studies have provided convincing evidence to add to a number of earlier observations suggesting that the rapid intracellular degradation of mammalian ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) is further accelerated by the action of ornithine decarboxylase antizyme (ODC-Az), a polyamineinduced protein. However, the mechanism whereby ODC-Az exerts its effect in this proteolytic process is mostly unknown. Here, by using reticulocyte-lysate–based synthesis and degradation systems, we demonstrate that interaction of ODC-Az with ODC results in two related outcomes: (a) ODC is inactivated as a result of its monomerization, and (b) ODC degradation is dramatically accelerated. While ODC inactivation requires the integrity of the ODC-Az binding site of ODC and the ODC binding site of ODC-Az, acceleration in ODC degradation also requires the previously characterized carboxyl-terminal destabilizing segment of ODC and a specific segment of ODC-Az that may be functionally distinct from that required for ODC binding. Interestingly, an active ODC variant with a mutant ODC-Az binding site is stable under basal degradation conditions. This, together with the ability of anti-(ODC-Az) antibody to specifically inhibit the basal degradation of ODC in the lysate, suggests that ODC-Az is an essential general mediator of ODC degradation. Based on these observations, we propose a model for the degradation of ODC which always require interaction with antizyme.