Pig liver oligosaccharyltransferase (OST) is inactivated irreversibly by a hexapeptide in which threonine has been substituted by epoxyethylglycine in the Asn-Xaa-Thr glycosylation triplet. Incubation of the enzyme in the presence of Dol-PP-linked [14C]oligosaccharides and the N-3,5-dinitrobenzoylated epoxy derivative leads to the double-labelling of two subunits (48 and 66 kDa) of the oligomeric OST complex, both of which are involved in the catalytic activity. Labelling of both subunits was blocked competitively by the acceptor peptide N-benzoyl-Asu-Gly-Thr-NHCH3 and by the OST inhibitor N-benzoyl-alpha,gamma-diaminobutyric acid-Gly-Thr-NHCH3, but not by an analogue derived from the epoxy-inhibitor by replacing asparagine with glutamine. Our data clearly show that double-labelling is an active-site-directed modification, involving inhibitor glycosylation at asparagine and covalent attachment of the glycosylated inhibitor, via the epoxy group, to the enzyme. Double-labelling of OST can occur as the result of either a consecutive or a syn-catalytic reaction sequence. The latter mechanism, during the course of which OST catalyses its own 'suicide' inactivation, is more likely, as suggested by indirect experimental evidence. The syn-catalytic mechanism corresponds with our current view of the functional role of the acceptor site Thr/Ser acting as a hydrogen-bond acceptor, not a donor, during transglycosylation.