AspT, the aspartate:alanine antiporter of Tetragenococcus halophilus, a membrane protein of 543 amino acids with 10 putative transmembrane (TM) helices, is the prototype of the aspartate:alanine exchanger (AAE) family of transporters. Because TM3 (isoleucine 64 to methionine 85) has many amino acid residues that are conserved among members of the AAE family and because TM3 contains two charged residues and four polar residues, it is thought to be located near (or to form part of) the substrate translocation pathway that includes the binding site for the substrates. To elucidate the role of TM3 in the transport process, we carried out cysteine-scanning mutagenesis. The substitutions of tyrosine 75 and serine 84 had the strongest inhibitory effects on transport (initial rates of L-aspartate transport were below 15% of the rate for cysteine-less AspT). Considerable but less-marked effects were observed upon the replacement of methionine 70, phenylalanine 71, glycine 74, arginine 76, serine 83, and methionine 85 (initial rates between 15% and 30% of the rate for cysteine-less AspT). Introduced cysteine residues at the cytoplasmic half of TM3 could be labeled with Oregon green maleimide (OGM), whereas cysteines close to the periplasmic half (residues 64 to 75) were not labeled. These results suggest that TM3 has a hydrophobic core on the periplasmic half and that hydrophilic residues on the cytoplasmic half of TM3 participate in the formation of an aqueous cavity in membranes. Furthermore, the presence of L-aspartate protected the cysteine introduced at glycine 62 against a reaction with OGM. In contrast, L-aspartate stimulated the reactivity of the cysteine introduced at proline 79 with OGM. These results demonstrate that TM3 undergoes L-aspartate-induced conformational alterations. In addition, nonreducing sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis analyses and a glutaraldehyde cross-linking assay suggest that functional AspT forms homo-oligomers as a functional unit.