Ethylene is a plant hormone involved in all stages of growth and development, including regulation of germination, responses to environmental stress, and fruit ripening. The final step in ethylene biosynthesis, oxidation of 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC) to yield ethylene, is catalyzed by ACC oxidase (ACCO). In a previous EPR and ENDOR study of the EPR-active Fe(II)-nitrosyl, [FeNO],7 complex of ACCO, we demonstrated that both the amino and the carboxyl moieties of the inhibitor D,L-alanine, and the substrate ACC by analogy, coordinate to the Fe(II) ion in the Fe(II)-NO-ACC ternary complex. In this report, we use 35 GHz pulsed and CW ENDOR spectroscopy to examine the coordination of Fe by ACCO in more detail. ENDOR data for selectively 15N-labeled derivatives of substrate-free ACCO-NO (E-NO) and substrate/inhibitor-bound ACCO-NO (E-NO-S) have identified two histidines as protein-derived ligands to Fe; 1,2H and 17O ENDOR of samples in D2O and H217O solvent have confirmed the presence of water in the substrate-free Fe(II) coordination sphere (E-NO). Analysis of orientation-selective 14,15N and 17O ENDOR data is interpreted in terms of a structural model of the ACCO active site, both in the presence (E-NO-S) and in the absence (E-NO) of substrate. Evidence is also given that substrate binding dictates the orientation of bound O 2.