Myo-inositol-1-phosphatase (EC 220.127.116.11) is able to hydrolyze myo-inositol-1-phosphate in the presence of Mg(2+) ions at neutral pH, and also p-nitrophenyl phosphate in the presence of Zn(2+)-ions at acidic pH. This enzyme plays a role in phosphatidylinositol cell signalling and is a putative target of lithium therapy in manic depression. We elucidate here the kinetic mechanism of the Zn-dependent activity of myo-inositol-1-phosphatase. As part of this analysis it was necessary to determine the basicity constants of p-nitrophenyl phosphate and the stability constant of its metal-complex in the presence of zinc chloride. We find that the Zn-dependent reaction may be described either by a rapid-equilibrium random mechanism or an ordered steady-state mechanism in which the substrate binds to the free enzyme prior to the metal ion. In both models the Zn-substrate complex acts as a high affinity inhibitor, yielding a dead-end species through its binding to the enzyme-Zn-substrate in rapid-equilibrium or to the enzyme-phosphate complexes in a steady-state model. Phosphate is a competitive inhibitor of the enzyme with respect to the substrate and an uncompetitive inhibitor with respect to zinc ions.