Somatic angiotensin I converting enzyme (ACE; kininase II) has two active sites, in two (N and C) domains. We studied the active centers with separate N-domain ACE (N-ACE), testicular C-domain ACE (germinal ACE) and, as control, renal somatic ACE. Germinal ACE cleaved the nonapeptide bradykinin about two times faster than N-ACE in 20 mM Cl-. Bradykinin1-7 was hydrolyzed further to bradykinin1-5 by N-ACE four times faster in the absence of Cl-, but at 300 mM Cl- the C-domain hydrolyzed it twice as fast. The hematopoietic system regulatory peptide acetyl-Ser-Asp-Lys-Pro was split to two dipeptides by N-ACE, depending on the chloride concentration, 8 to 24 times faster than by germinal ACE; at 100 mM Cl-, the Kcat with N-ACE was eight times higher. One millimolar 1-fluoro-2,4-dinitrobenzene inhibited germinal ACE 96% but it inhibited N-ACE by only 31%. [3H]Ramiprilat was displaced by other unlabeled ACE inhibitors to establish their relative affinities. Captopril had the lowest IC50 (0.5 nM) with N-ACE and the highest IC50 (8.3 nM) with the germinal ACE. The IC50 values of ramiprilat and quinaprilat were about the same with both active sites. The association and dissociation constants of [3H]ramiprilat indicated faster association with and faster dissociation from N-ACE than from germinal ACE. After exposure to alkali or moderate heat, somatic ACE was cleaved by plasmin and kallikrein, releasing N-ACE and apparently inactivating the C-domain. These studies affirm the differences in the activity, stability and inhibition of the two active sites of ACE.