N-Carbamoyl-beta-alanine (NC beta A) amidohydrolase (EC 188.8.131.52) is regulated in opposing fashion by the substrate, NC beta A and the product, beta-alanine. The native enzyme from rat liver has a molecular weight of 235,000 in the absence of ligands. NC beta A and substrate analogs (N-amidino-beta-alanine, N-carbamoyl-glycine) produced association of the enzyme. beta-Alanine and its analog gamma-aminobutyrate caused dissociation of the enzyme and produced inhibition. Negative cooperativity was observed for the binding of all ligands as measured by the change in polymerization of the enzyme, with an average Hill coefficient (napp) of 0.5. Enzyme that had been dissociated by preincubation with beta-alanine had little or no initial activity; only after a lag of 9 s was a steady state progress curve evident. The existence of a regulatory site is proposed as a model to explain physical and kinetic data. The enzyme activity was highest in rat liver and detectable in kidney; activity was not detected in brain, lung, muscle, or spleen of rat, nor in mouse Ehrlich ascites tumor cells. The rat liver enzyme has a pH optimum of 6.8, with a Km of 6.5 microM for NC beta A and a Ki of 1.08 mM for beta-alanine at this pH.