Abstract Mini-myoglobin is a polypeptide fragment (residues 32–139) obtained by limited proteolysis of horse heart apomyoglobin and reconstituted with the natural heme. Its functional properties are very similar to those native myoglobin and therefore it may represent a model for testing the functional role of the protein fragment encoded by the central exon of myoglobin gene (residues 31–105). Here we have investigated some properties of the nitric oxide derivative of mini-myoglobin in comparison with those of NO-myoglobin, to provide more structural information on the heme pocket residues in addition to that already acquired by electron paramagnetic resonance of the cobalt-substituted mini-myoglobin. At pH 7.0, optical and circular dichroism Soret spectra, as well as electron paramagnetic resonance spectra reveal that the heme orientation in the pocket and the coordination state of the ferrous iron in NO-mini-myoglobin are similar to those of the whole protein. The spectra of the NO-mini-myoglobin complex are very sensitive to pH changes at variance to what is observed for the NO-myoglobin derivative in the same ph range (5.5–9.5). In particular, increasing or decreasing pH from 7.0, results in a decrease of the extinction coefficient and of the ellipticity in the Soret region and in a change of the shape of the electron paramagnetic resonance signal. The spectral changes are diagnostic for a transition from a hexa-coordinated (at pH 7.0) to a penta-coordinated heme (at pH 5.5 or 9.5), with the proximal histidine-iron bond either broken or stretched dramatically. Thus, although mini-myoglobin is able to bind NO in a geometry similar to that of the native protein, the resulting NO derivative shows a much higher pH dependence, suggesting that the two lacking side domains are mainly involved in enhancing the stability of the hemoprotein core.