HAH1 is a 68-amino acid protein originally identified as a human homologue of Atx1p, a multi-copy suppressor of oxidative injury in sod1 delta yeast. Molecular modeling of HAH1 predicts a protein structure of two alpha-helices overlaying a four-stranded antiparallel beta-sheet with a potential metal binding site involving two conserved cysteine residues. Consistent with this model, in vitro studies with recombinant HAH1 directly demonstrated binding of Cu(I), and site-directed mutagenesis identified these cysteine residues as copper ligands. Expression of wild type and mutant HAH1 in atx1 delta yeast revealed the essential role of these cysteine residues in copper trafficking to the secretory compartment in vivo, as expression of a Cys-12/Cys-15 double mutant abrogated copper incorporation into the multicopper oxidase Fet3p. In contrast, mutation of the highly conserved lysine residues in the carboxyl terminus of HAH1 had no effect on copper trafficking to the secretory pathway but eliminated the antioxidant function of HAH1 in sod1 delta yeast. Taken together, these data support the concept of a unique copper coordination environment in HAH1 that permits this protein to function as an intracellular copper chaperone mediating distinct biological processes in eucaryotic cells.