The L-arabinose isomerase (L-AI) from Bacillus stearothermophilus US100 is characterized by its high thermoactivity and catalytic efficiency. Furthermore, as opposed to the majority of l-arabinose isomerases, this enzyme requires metallic ions for its thermostability rather than for its activity. These features make US100 L-AI attractive as a template for industrial use. Based on previously solved crystal structures and sequence alignments, we identified amino acids that are putatively important for the US100 L-AI isomerization reaction. Among these, E306, E331, H348, and H447, which correspond to the suggested essential catalytic amino acids of the L-fucose isomerase and the L-arabinose isomerase from Escherichia coli, are presumed to be the active-site residues of US100 L-AI. Site-directed mutagenesis confirmed that the mutation of these residues resulted in totally inactive proteins, thus demonstrating their critical role in the enzyme activity. A homology model of US100 L-AI was constructed, and its analysis highlighted another set of residues which may be crucial for the recognition and processing of substrates; hence, these residues were subjected to mutagenesis studies. The replacement of the D308, F329, E351, and H446 amino acids with alanine seriously affected the enzyme activities, and suggestions about the roles of these residues in the catalytic mechanism are given. The mutation F279Q strongly increased the enzyme's affinity for L-fucose and decreased the affinity for L-arabinose compared to that of the wild-type enzyme, showing the implication of this amino acid in substrate recognition.