The S1 substrate specificity of porcine pepsin has been altered to resemble that of fungal aspartic proteinase with preference for a basic amino acid residue in P1 by site directed mutagenesis. On the basis of primary and tertiary structures of aspartic proteinases, the active site-flap mutants of porcine pepsin were constructed, which involved the replacement of Thr-77 by Asp (T77D), the insertion of Ser between Gly-78 and Ser-79 (G78(S)S79), and the double mutation (T77D/G78(S)S79). The specificities of the mutants were determined using p-nitrophenylalanine-based substrates containing a Phe or Lys residue at the P1 position. The double mutant cleaved the Lys-Phe(4- NO2) bonds, while wild-type enzyme digested other bonds. In addition, the pH dependence of hydrolysis of Lys-containing substrates by the double mutant indicates that the interactions between Asp-77 of the mutant and P1 Lys contribute to the transition state stabilization. The double mutant was also able to activate bovine trypsinogen to trypsin by the selective cleavage of the Lys6-Ile7 bond of trypsinogen. Results of this study suggest that the structure of the active site flap contributes to the S1 substrate specificity for basic amino acid residues in aspartic proteinases.