Acetylene generated from various grades of calcium carbide and obtained from commercial- and purified-grade acetylene cylinders was shown to contain high concentrations of various contaminants. Dependent on the source of acetylene, these included, at maximal values, H2 (0.023%), O2 (0.779%), N2 (3.78%), PH3 (0.06%), CH4 (0.073%), and acetone (1 to 10%). The concentration of the contaminants in cylinder acetylene was highly dependent on the extent of cylinder discharge. Several conventional methods used to partially purify cylinder acetylene were compared. A small-scale method for extensively purifying acetylene is described. An effect of acetylene quality on acetylene reduction assays conducted with purified nitrogenase from Azotobacter vinelandii was demonstrated.