Bovine intestinal mucosal alkaline phosphatase is inactivated by the chelating agent EGTA. Several concentrations of the enzyme were incubated with EGTA and a range of concentrations of the substrate p-nitrophenyl phosphate to determine the substrate concentration as a function of time. As predicted by a recently developed theory [Duggleby (1986) J. Theor. Biol. 123, 67-80], catalysis ceases before all substrate is exhausted. An analysis of these final substrate concentrations according to the theory revealed that, whereas the free enzyme is unstable, the effect of EGTA is counteracted when either the substrate or product (phosphate) is bound. Comparison of the results with those obtained by direct stability measurements and steady-state kinetic experiments gave a qualitatively and quantitatively consistent body of evidence in support of this interpretation.