The absorption spectrum of cobalt(II)-substituted Aeromonas aminopeptidase is markedly perturbed by the presence of equimolar concentrations of D-amino acid hydroxamates and acyl hydroxamates that have previously been shown to be powerful inhibitors of this enzyme (Wilkes, S. H., and Prescott, J. M. (1983) J. Biol. Chem. 258, 13517-13521). D-Valine hydroxamate produces the most distinctive perturbation, splitting the characteristic 527 nm absorption peak of the cobalt enzyme to form peaks at 564, 520, and 487 nm with molar extinction values of 126, 98, and 67 M-1 cm-1, respectively. A qualitatively similar perturbation, albeit with lower extinction values, results from the addition of D-leucine hydroxamate, whereas D-alanine hydroxamate perturbs the spectrum, but does not evoke the peak at 564 nm. In contrast, hydroxamates of L-valine and L-leucine in concentrations equi-molar to that of the enzyme produce only faint indications of change in the spectrum, but the hydroxamates of several other L-amino acids perturb the spectrum essentially independently of the identity of the side chain and in a qualitatively different manner from that of D-valine hydroxamate and D-leucine hydroxamate. At the high enzyme:substrate ratios used in the spectral experiments, L-leucine hydroxamate and L-valine hydroxamate proved to be rapidly hydrolyzed, hence their inability to perturb the spectrum of the cobalt-substituted enzyme during the time course of a spectral experiment. Values of kcat for L-amino acid hydroxamates, all of which are good reversible inhibitors of the hydrolysis of L-leucine-p-nitroanilide by Aeromonas aminopeptidase, were found to range from 0.01 min-1 to 5.6 min-1 for the native enzyme and from 0.27 min-1 to 108 min-1 for the cobalt-substituted enzyme; their km values toward the cobalt aminopeptidase range from 1.2 X 10(-7) M to 1.9 X 10(-5) M. The mutual exclusivity of binding for hydroxamate inhibitors and 1-butaneboronic acid, previously shown by kinetics (Baker, J. O., Wilkes, S. H., Bayliss, M. E., and Prescott, J. M. (1983) Biochemistry 22, 2098-2103), was reflected in the characteristic spectra produced by these two types of inhibitors.