A rapid method is described for the preparation of up to 500 milligrams of pure ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (RuBP carboxylase) from 250 grams of field-grown soybean leaves. Leaves were extracted in 20 millimolar phosphate (pH 6.9) at 4°C, containing 4% (w/v) polyvinylpolypyrrolidone, 10 micromolar leupeptin, 1 millimolar phenylmethyl sulfonylfluoride, 1 millimolar diethyldithiocarbamate, 5 millimolar MgCl2, 1 millimolar dithiothreitol, 0.2 millimolar ethylene-diaminetetraacetic acid, 50 millimolar 2-mercaptoethanol. The extract was incubated in the presence of 5 millimolar ATP at 58°C for 9 minutes, then centrifuged and concentrated. Sucrose gradient centrifugation into 8 to 28% (w/v) sucrose on a vertical rotor for 2.5 hours yielded pure enzyme with a specific activity of 1.1 to 1.3 micromoles per minute per milligram protein at pH 8.0, 25°C. Soybean plants of the same line grown (at 400 microeinsteins per square meter per second) in growth chambers yielded enzyme with a specific activity of 0.6 to 0.7 micromoles per minute per milligram protein. During prolonged purification procedures a proteolytic degradation of RuBP carboxylase caused complete loss of catalytic activity. Without destroying the quaternary structure of the enzyme, a 3 kilodalton peptide was removed from all large subunits before further breakdown (removal of a 5 kilodalton peptide) occurred. Catalytic competence of the enzyme was abolished with the loss of the first (3 kilodalton) peptide.