The release of intact CU(I)8-thionein from copper-resistant copper-loaded yeast cells, strain X 2180-1Aa, has been shown. This copper(I)-thiolate-rich protein was characterized and compared with the chemical and physicochemical properties of intracellular yeast Cu-thionein. The same molecular mass and stoichiometry of 8 mol copper atoms/mol protein was found. No detectable difference between the Cu-thioneins was seen in luminescence emission, electronic absorption in the ultraviolet region, chiroptical data or amino acid composition. The importance of stable Cu(I)-thiolates in Cu-thionein as a safe vehicle for transporting copper in a non-reactive manner is confirmed.