Homo- and heterodimeric hemoglobins have been isolated from the red cells of the arcid clam Noetia ponderosa (Np). These hemoglobins bind oxygen cooperatively. An extensively studied dimeric hemoglobin from another arcid clam, Scapaharca inaequivalvis, exhibits a molecular mechanism for cooperative ligand binding that is radically different from tetrameric vertebrate hemoglobins. In this study, the two chains found in both Noetia hemoglobins are sequenced and compared to the hemoglobins of the related clam S. inaequivalvis to determine whether Noetia hemoglobins have the structural basis for the same unusual mechanism for cooperative ligand binding and to inquire about the structural basis of absence of tetramers. Although the Noetia sequences are homologous to the Scapharca sequences, critical differences exist. The lack of tetramerization of Np subunits is most likely related to the absence of critical residues in the A and G helices that stabilize the interdimer contact seen in the Scapharca Hb tetramer. The lower affinity of the homodimer (Np-I), but particularly the heterodimer (Np-II) with respect to the homodimer and heterotetramer of Scapharca, can be due to (i) changes in the proximal heme environment and (ii) changes in the dimer interface. Interactions between Asn 100 and the heme of the other subunit are altered in Np-II due to the substitution of this residue by methionine, possibly causing the reduced O(2) affinity of the heterodimer of Noetia. (iii) Sequence changes in the E and F helices present in Np-I and Np-II could also contribute to the effect through interfacial changes. In particular, the substitution of Val for Thr in position 72 is expected to have a substantial influence on the interface. We conclude that Np dimers have the structural basis for a direct heme-heme interaction mechanism for cooperativity, as in Scapharca, but there are enough sequence changes to suggest that the pathway of interaction might be somewhat different.