The molecular characteristics of the dominant anion-exchange binding site of hen egg white lysozyme (HEWL) has been investigated using a combination of high-performance liquid chromatographic techniques and computer graphic analysis of the X-ray crystallographic structure. These studies have indicated that the site of highest electrostatic potential, in terms of the density of negatively charged amino acid side chains, is located around the catalytic cleft area. The four residues tentatively identified to be involved in the electrostatic binding domain were aspartic acid 48, 52, 101 and glutamic acid 35. The number of these charged groups correlated with the maximum value of the chromatographically determined retention parameter (Zc value). Variations in the range of experimental Zc values obtained under different elution conditions have been interpreted in terms of conformational flexibility of the structural domains of HEWL which result in the opening or closure of the catalytic cleft during the retention process.