Oxidizing two native methionine residues predominantly populates the denatured state of monomeric lambda repressor (MetO-lambdaLS) under nondenaturing conditions. NMR was used to characterize the secondary structure and dynamics of MetO-lambdaLS in standard phosphate buffer. 13Calpha and 1Halpha chemical shift indices reveal a region of significant helicity between residues 9 and 29. This helical content is further supported by the observation of medium-range amide NOEs. The remaining residues do not exhibit significant helicity as determined by NMR. We determined 15N relaxation parameters for 64 of 85 residues at 600 and 800 MHz. There are two distinct regions of reduced flexibility, residues 8-32 in the N-terminal third and residues 50-83 in the C-terminal third. The middle third, residues 33-50, has greater flexibility. We have analyzed the amplitude of the backbone motions in terms of the physical properties of the amino acids and conclude that conformational restriction of the backbone MetO-lambdaLS is due to nascent helix formation in the region corresponding to native helix 1. The bulkiness of amino acid residues in the C-terminal third leads to the potential for hydrophobic interactions, which is suggested by chemical exchange detected by the difference in spectral density J(0) at the two static magnetic fields. The more flexible middle region is the result of a predominance of small side chains in this region.