Various mutations in leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) have been linked to susceptibility for both familial and idiopathic late-onset Parkinson's disease (PD). In this study, we have demonstrated that phosphorylation of MBP and LRRKtide by the LRRK2 G2019S mutant was activated by Mn(2+) in vitro. This enhanced G2019S kinase activity was due to the combination of an increase in kinase and a decrease in ATPase activity by Mn(2+). Compared to 10 mM Mg(2+), 1 mM Mn(2+) reduced ATP K(m) for G2019S from 103 to 1.8 muM and only modestly reduced k(cat) (2.5-fold); as a result, the Mn(2+) increased its k(cat)/K(m) by 22-fold. This change in ATP K(m) was due in large part to an increase in nucleotide affinity. While Mn(2+) also increased ATP affinity and had similar effects on k(cat)/K(m) for LRRK2 WT and R1441C enzymes, it reduced their k(cat) values significantly by 13-17-fold. Consequently, the difference in the kinase activity between G2019S and other LRRK2 variants was enhanced from about 2-fold in Mg(2+) to 10-fold in Mn(2+) at saturating ATP concentrations relative to its K(m). Furthermore, while Mg(2+) yielded optimal V(max) values at Mg(2+) concentration greater than 5 mM, the optimal Mn(2+) concentration for activating LRRK2 catalysis was in the micromolar range with increasing Mn(2+) above 1 mM causing a decrease in enzyme activity. Finally, despite the large but expected differences in IC(50) tested at 100 muM ATP, the apparent K(i) values of a small set of LRRK2 ATP-competitive inhibitors were within 5-fold between Mg(2+)- and Mn(2+)-mediated reactions except AMP-CPP, an ATP analogue.