The benzoate 1,2-dioxygenase system (BZDOS) from Pseudomonas putida mt-2 catalyzes the NADH-dependent oxidation of benzoate to 1-carboxy-1,2-cis-dihydroxycyclohexa-3,5-diene. Both the oxygenase (BZDO) and reductase (BZDR) components of BZDOS have been purified and characterized kinetically and by optical, EPR, and Mössbauer spectroscopies. BZDO has an (αβ)3 subunit structure in which each α subunit contains a Rieske [2Fe-2S] cluster and a mononuclear iron site. Two different purification protocols were developed for BZDO allowing the mononuclear iron to be stabilized in either the Fe(III) or the Fe(II) state for spectroscopic characterization. Using single turnover reactions, it is shown that fully reduced BZDO alone is capable of yielding the cis-diol product in high yield at rates that exceed the BZDOS turnover number. At the conclusion of turnover, quantification of each oxidation state of the metal sites by EPR and Mössbauer spectroscopies shows that the Rieske cluster and mononuclear iron are each oxidized in amounts equal to the product yield, suggesting that the two electrons required for catalysis derive from the two metal centers. These results are in agreement with our previous study of naphthalene 1,2-dioxygenase [Wolfe, M. D., Parales, J. V., Gibson, D. T., and Lipscomb, J. D. (2001) J. Biol. Chem. 276, 1945-1953], which belongs to a different Rieske dioxygenase subclass, suggesting that it is a universal characteristic of Rieske dioxygenases that oxygen activation and substrate oxidation are catalyzed by the oxygenase component alone. The EPR spectrum of the Fe(III) center after a single turnover is distinct from either of those of substrate-free or substrate-bound enzyme. The complex with this spectrum is not formed by addition of cis-diol product to the resting Fe(III) form of the enzyme but is observed when the Fe(II) form is oxidized in the presence of product. Together, these results suggest that product exchange occurs only when the mononuclear iron is reduced. Stopped-flow and rapid scan analyses monitoring the oxidation of the Rieske cluster during the single turnover reaction show that it occurs in three phases that are kinetically competent for catalysis. The rate of each phase was found to be dependent on the type of substrate present, suggesting that the substrate influences the rate of electron transfer between the metal clusters. The participation of substrate in the oxygen activation reaction suggests a new aspect of the mechanism of this process by the Rieske dioxygenase class.