Osteoclasts and macrophages express high amounts of tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRACP), an enzyme with unknown biological function. TRACP contains a disulfide bond, a protease-sensitive loop peptide, and a redox-active iron that can catalyze formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). We studied the effects of proteolytic cleavage by trypsin, reduction of the disulfide bond by beta-mercaptoethanol, and reduction of the redox-active iron by ascorbate on the phosphatase and ROS-generating activity of baculovirus-generated recombinant human TRACP. Ascorbate alone and trypsin in combination with beta-mercaptoethanol increased k(cat)/K(m) of the phosphatase activity seven- to ninefold. The pH-optimum was changed from 5.4-5.6 to 6.2-6.4 by ascorbate and trypsin cleavage. Trypsin cleavage increased k(cat)/K(m) of the ROS-generating activity 2.5-fold without affecting the pH-optimum (7.0). These results suggest that the protease-sensitive loop peptide, redox-active iron, and disulfide bond are important regulatory sites in TRACP, and that the phosphatase and ROS-generating activity are performed with different reaction mechanisms.