The effects of guanidinium chloride (GuHCl) on the stability of the apo form of the 5S non-reassociating subunit of hemocyanin from the crab Carcinus aestuarii (apo-CaeSS2) were investigated, using a variety of optical spectroscopy techniques (light scattering (LS), fluorescence (IF and EF) and circular dichroism (CD)). The fluorescence of 8-anilino-1-naphtalene sulphonate (ANS) was strongly enhanced in the presence of apo-CaeSS2, in contrast to holo-CaeSS2, suggesting the formation of a molten globule (MG)-like state, consequent to the removal of the two copper ions from the holo subunit. Other evidences, favouring the presence of this state in apo-CaeSS2, derive from an enhanced quenching of intrinsic fluorescence (IF) by acrylamide, a higher sensibility towards aggregation and a higher IF with respect to deoxy holo-CaeSS2. Aggregation of apo-CaeSS2 below 1.2 M GuHCl was detected by LS, suggesting the formation of an aggregation-prone intermediate, called I1. Due to this effect, fluorescence and CD data could only be collected above that denaturant concentration. Both IF (protein) and EF (ANS) fluorescence data were best fitted by a two-state cooperative transition, occurring between the intermediate I1 and the unfolded state U, with C(1/2) 1.6-1.7 M. A similar two-state transition, with a slightly higher C(1/2) value (1.9 M), was also inferred from far-UV CD data, suggesting the possible formation of another intermediate. Partial refolding of apo-CaeSS2 by dilution was found to occur above 1.2 M GuHCl, i.e. up to the level of I1, since at lower denaturant concentration protein aggregation took place, as also observed in unfolding. All thermodynamic parameters, derived from data above 1.2 M GuHCl, are therefore referred to transitions between intermediate and unfolded states only. Unfolding kinetics, followed by fluorescence stopped-flow, was biphasic in the whole GuHCl range investigated (3-5 M), suggesting the formation of a transient intermediate, possibly related to that observed under equilibrium conditions.