The mutation of a single leucine residue (L38) to methionine (M) is known experimentally to significantly increase the affinity of the synthetic four-alpha-helix bundle (Aalpha(2))(2) for the anesthetic halothane. We present a molecular dynamics study of the mutant (Aalpha(2)-L38M)(2) peptide, which consists of a dimer of 62-residue U-shaped di-alpha-helical monomers assembled in an anti topology. A comparison between the simulation results and those obtained for the native (Aalpha(2))(2) peptide indicates that the overall secondary structure of the bundle is not affected by the mutation, but that the side chains within the monomers are better packed in the mutant structure. Unlike the native peptide, binding of a single halothane molecule to the hydrophobic core of (Aalpha(2)-L38M)(2) deforms the helical nature of one monomer in a region close to the mutation site. Increased exposure of the cysteine side chain to the hydrophobic core in the mutant structure leads to the enhancement of the attractive interaction between halothane and this specific residue. Since the mutated residues are located outside the hydrophobic core the observed increased affinity for halothane appears to be an indirect effect of the mutation.