Each homologous lobe of human serum transferrin (hTF) has one Fe(3+) ion bound by an aspartic acid, a histidine, two tyrosine residues, and two oxygens from the synergistic anion, carbonate. Extensive characterization of these ligands in the N-terminal lobe has been carried out. Despite sharing the same set of ligands, there is a substantial amount of evidence that the N- and C-lobes are inequivalent. Studies of full-length hTF have shown that iron release from each lobe is kinetically distinguishable. To simplify the assessment of mutations in the C-lobe, we have created mutant hTF molecules in which the N-lobe binds iron with high affinity or not at all. Mutations targeting the C-lobe liganding residues have been introduced into these hTF constructs. UV-visible spectral, kinetic, and EPR studies have been undertaken to assess the effects of each mutation and to allow direct comparison to the N-lobe. As found for the N-lobe, the presence of Y517 in the C-lobe (equivalent to Y188 in the N-lobe) is absolutely essential for the binding of iron. Unlike the N-lobe, however, mutation of Y426 (equivalent to Y95) does not produce a stable complex with iron. For the mutants that retain the ability to bind iron (D392S and H585A), the rates of release are considerably slower than those measured for equivalent mutations in the N-lobe at both pH 7.4 and pH 5.6. Equilibrium binding experiments with HeLa S(3) cells indicate that recombinant hTF, in which Y426 or H585 is mutated, favor a closed or nearly closed conformation while those with mutations of the D392 or Y517 ligands appear to promote an open conformation. The differences in the effects of mutating the liganding residues in the two lobes and the subtle indications of cooperativity between lobes point to the importance of the transferrin receptor in effecting iron release from the C-lobe. Significantly, the equilibrium binding experiments also indicate that, regardless of which lobe contains the iron, the free energy of binding is equivalent and not additive; each monoferric hTF has a free energy of binding that is 82% of diferric hTF.