Abstract A reliable model of tobacco acetohydroxy acid synthase (AHAS) was obtained by homology modeling based on a yeast AHAS X-ray structure using the Swiss-Model server. Conserved residues at the dimer interface were identified, of which the functional roles of four residues, namely H142, E143, M489, and M542, were determined by site-directed mutagenesis. Eight mutants were successfully generated and purified, five of which (H142T, M489V, M542C, M542I, and M542V) were found to be inactive under various assay conditions. The H142K mutant was moderately altered in all kinetic parameters to a similar extent. In addition, the mutant was more thermo-labile than wild type enzyme. The E143A mutant increased the K m value more than 20-fold while other parameters were not significantly changed. All mutations carried out on residue M542 inactivated the enzyme. Though showing a single band on SDS–PAGE, the M542C mutant lost its native tertiary structure and was aggregated. Except M542C, each of the other mutants showed a secondary structure similar to that of wild type enzyme. Although all the inactive mutants were able to bind FAD, the mutants M489V and M542C showed a very low affinity for FAD. None of the active mutants constructed was strongly resistant to three tested herbicides. Taken together, the results suggest that the residues of H142, E143, M489, and M542 are essential for catalytic activity. Furthermore, it seems that H142 residue is involved in stabilizing the dimer interaction, while E143 residue may be involved in binding with substrate pyruvate. The data from the site-directed mutagenesis imply that the constructed homology model of tobacco AHAS is realistic.