Barnase, the guanine specific ribonuclease of Bacillus amyloliquefaciens, was subjected to mutations in order to alter the electrostatic properties of the enzyme. Ser-85 was mutated into Glu with the goal to introduce an extra charge in the neighborhood of His-102. A double mutation (Ser-85-Glu and Asp-86-Asn) was introduced with the same purpose but without altering the global charge of the enzyme. A similar set of mutations was made using Asp at position 85. For all mutants the pI was determined using the technique of isoelectric focusing and calculated on the basis of the Tanford-Kirkwood theory. When Glu was used to replace Ser-85, the correlation between the experimental and the calculated values was perfect. However, in the Ser-85-Asp mutant, the experimental pI drop is bigger than the calculated one, and in the double mutant (Ser-85-Asp and Asp-86-Asn) the compensation is not achieved. The effect of the mutations on the pKa of His-102 can be determined from the pH dependence of the kcat/KM for the hydrolysis of dinucleotides, e.g., GpC. The effect can also be calculated using the the method of Honig. In this case the agreement is very good for the Glu-mutants and the single Asp-mutant, but less for the double Asp-mutant. The global stability of the Asp-mutants is, however, the same as the wild type, as shown by stability studies using urea denaturation. Molecular dynamics calculations, however, show that in the double Asp-mutant His-102 (H+) swings out of its pocket to make a hydrogen bridge with Gin-104 which should cause an additional pKa rise. The effect of the Glu-mutations was also tested on all the kinetic parameters for GpC and the cyclic intermediate G > p at pH 6.5, for RNA at pH 8.0, and for poly(A) at pH 6.2. The effect of the mutations is rather limited for the dinucleotide and the cyclic intermediate, but a strong increase of the KM is observed in the case of the single mutant (extra negative charge) with polymeric substrates. These results indicate that the extra negative charge has a strong destabilizing effect on the binding of the polymeric substrates in the ground state and the transition state complex. A comparison with the structure of bound tetranucleotides (Buckle, A.M. and Fersht, A.R., Biochemistry 33:1644-1653, 1994) shows that the extra negative charge points towards the P2 site.