An extracellular alkaline serine proteinase from Thermus strain ToK3 was isolated and purified to homogeneity by (NH4)2SO4 precipitation followed by ion-exchange chromatography on DEAE-cellulose and QAE-Sephadex, affinity chromatography on N alpha-benzyloxycarbonyl-D-phenylalanyl-triethylenetetraminyl-Sepha rose 4B and gel-filtration chromatography on Sephadex G-75. The purified enzyme had a pI of 8.9 and an Mr determined by gel-permeation chromatography of 25,000. The specific activity was about 37,700 proteolytic units/mg with casein as substrate, and the pH optimum was 9.5. Proteolytic activity was inhibited by low concentrations of di-isopropyl phosphorofluoridate and phenylmethanesulphonyl fluoride, but was unaffected by EDTA, EGTA, o-phenanthroline, N-ethyl-5-phenylisoxazolium-3'-sulphonate, N alpha-p-tosyl-L-phenylalanylchloromethane, N alpha-p-tosyl-L-lysylchloromethane, trypsin inhibitors and pepstatin A. The enzyme contained approx. 10% carbohydrate and four disulphide bonds. No Ca2+, Zn2+ or free thiol groups were detected. It hydrolysed several native and dye-linked proteins and synthetic chromogenic peptides and esters. The enzyme was very thermostable (half-life values were 840 min at 80 degrees C, 45 min at 90 degrees C and 5 min at 100 degrees C). The enzyme was unstable at low ionic strength: after 60 min at 75 degrees C in 0.1 M-Tris/acetate buffer, pH 8, only 20% activity remained, compared with no loss in 0.1 M-Tris/acetate buffer, pH 8, containing 0.4 M-NaCl.