The periplasmic Sud protein which is induced in Wolinella succinogenes growing by polysulfide respiration, has been previously proposed to serve as a polysulfide binding protein and to transfer polysulfide-sulfur to the active site of polysulfide reductase [Klimmek, O, Kreis, V., Klein, C., Simon, J., Wittershagen, A. & Kröger, A. (1998) Eur. J. Biochem. 253, 263-269.]. The results presented in this communication suggest that polysulfide-sulfur is covalently bound to the single cysteine residue (Cys109) of the Sud monomer, and that Cys109 is required for tight binding of polysulfide-sulfur and for sulfur transfer. A modified Sud protein [(C109S)Sud-His6] in which the cysteine residue was replaced by serine, did not catalyze sulfur transfer from polysulfide to cyanide and did not stimulate electron transport to polysulfide, in contrast to Sud-His6. The polysulfide-sulfur bound to (C109S)Sud-His6 was fully removed upon dialysis against sulfide. After this treatment, Sud-His6 retained one sulfur atom per monomer; thiocyanate was formed upon addition of cyanide to the preparation. After incubation of Sud-His6 with polysulfide, a proportion of the Sud-His6 monomers carried one or two sulfur atoms, as shown by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry. The sulfur atoms were absent from monomers derived from Sud-His6 treated with cyanide and from (C109S)Sud-His6 incubated with polysulfide.