The suicide inactivation mechanism of tyrosinase acting on its phenolic substrates has been studied. Kinetic analysis of the proposed mechanism during the transition phase provides explicit analytical expressions for the concentrations of o-quinone versus time. The electronic, steric, and hydrophobic effects of the phenolic substrates influence the enzymatic reaction, increasing the catalytic speed by three orders of magnitude and the inactivation by one order of magnitude. To explain this suicide inactivation, we propose a mechanism in which the enzymatic form oxy-tyrosinase is responsible for the inactivation. In this mechanism, the rate constant of the reaction would be directly related with the strength of the nucleophilic attack of the C-1 hydroxyl group, which depends on the chemical shift of the carbon C-1 (delta(1)) obtained by (13)C-NMR. The suicide inactivation would occur if the C-2 hydroxyl group transferred the proton to the protonated peroxide, which would again act as a general base. In this case, the coplanarity between the copper atom, the oxygen of the C-1 and the ring would only permit the oxidation/reduction of one copper atom, giving rise to copper (0), hydrogen peroxide, and an o-quinone, which would be released, thus inactivating the enzyme. One possible application of this property could be the use of these suicide substrates as skin depigmenting agents.