Photosynthetic water oxidation by photosystem II is mediated by a Mn4 cluster, a cofactor X still chemically ill-defined, and a tyrosine, YZ (D1-Tyr161). Before the final reaction with water proceeds to yield O2 (transition S4-->S0), two oxidizing equivalents are stored on Mn4 (S0-->S1-->S2), a third on X (S2-->S3), and a forth on YZ(S3-->S4). It has been proposed that YZ functions as a pure electron transmitter between Mn4X and P680, or, more recently, that it acts as an abstractor of hydrogen from bound water. We scrutinized the coupling of electron and proton transfer during the oxidation of YZ in PSII core particles with intact or impaired oxygen-evolving capacity. The rates of electron transfer to P680+, of electrochromism, and of pH transients were determined as a function of the pH, the temperature, and the H/D ratio. In oxygen-evolving material, we found only evidence for electrostatically induced proton release from peripheral amino acid residues but not from YZox itself. The positive charge stayed near YZox, and the rate of electron transfer was nearly independent of the pH. In core particles with an impaired Mn4 cluster, on the other hand, the rate of the electron transfer became strictly dependent on the protonation state of a single base (pK approximately 7). At pH < 7, the rate of electron transfer revealed the same slow rate (t1/2 approximately 35 microseconds) as that of proton release into the bulk. The deposition of a positive charge around YZox was no longer detected. A large H/D isotope effect (approximately 2.5) on these rates was also indicative of a steering of electron abstraction by proton transfer. That YZox was deprotonated into the bulk in inactive but not in oxygen-evolving material argues against the proposed role of YZox as an acceptor of hydrogen from water. Instead, the positive charge in its vicinity may shift the equilibrium from bound water to bound peroxide upon S3-->S4 as a prerequisite for the formation of oxygen upon S4-->S0.