Cephalosporin 7 alpha-hydroxylase, which catalyses the conversion of cephalosporins into their 7 alpha-hydroxy derivatives, was purified nearly 390-fold from Streptomyces clavuligerus through ion-exchange chromatography, (NH4)2SO4 fractionation, gel filtration and dye chromatography, with the use of h.p.l.c. to monitor enzyme activity. The nearly pure enzyme migrates as a single major band, with an Mr of 32,000 in SDS/PAGE. Its optimum pH is in the range 7.3-7.7. Under our conditions the reaction was fastest at temperatures in the range 20-30 degrees C. The Km for cephalosporin C is 0.72 mM, and the Vmax. is 15.4 mumol of cephalosporin C hydroxylated/min per mg. Cephalosporin 7 alpha-hydroxylase did not show any deacetoxycephalosporin C synthase or deacetoxycephalosporin C hydroxylase activity.