Bright strains of the marine bioluminescent bacterium Photobacterium leiognathi produce a "lumazine protein" in amounts comparable to that previously found in Photobacterium phosphoreum. New protocols are developed for the purification to homogeneity of the proteins from both species in yields up to 60%. In dimmer strains the amounts of lumazine protein in extracts are less, and also there is an accompanying shift of the bioluminescence spectral maximum to longer wavelength, 492 nm. Both types of lumazine proteins have identical fluorescence spectra, with maxima at 475 nm, so it is suggested that, whereas lumazine protein is the major emitter in bright strains, there is a second emitter also present with a fluorescence maximum at longer wavelength. The two species of lumazine protein have the same 276 nm/visible absorbance ratio, 2.2, but differ in visible maxima: P. phosphoreum, 417 nm; P. leiognathi, 420 nm. For the latter the bound lumazine has ε420 = 10100 M-1 cm-1, practically the same as in free solution. The two lumazine proteins also differ quantitatively in their effect on the in vitro bioluminescence reaction, i.e., at blue shifting the bioluminescence spectrum or altering the kinetics. The P. phosphoreum lumazine protein is more effective with its homologous luciferase or with P. leiognathi luciferase than is the lumazine protein from P. leiognathi. These differences may have an electrostatic origin. © 1985, American Chemical Society. All rights reserved.