Determination of kinetic properties for kinesin adenosine triphosphatase (ATPase), a proposed motor for transport of membranous organelles, requires adequate amounts of kinesin with a consistent level of enzymatic activity. A purification procedure is detailed that produces approximately 2 mg of kinesin at up to 96% purity from 800 g of bovine brain. This protocol consists of a microtubule affinity step using 5'-adenylylimidodiphosphate (AMP-PNP); followed by gel filtration, ion exchange, and hydroxylapatite chromatography; and then sucrose density gradient centrifugation. The microtubule-activated ATPase activity of kinesin coeluted with kinesin polypeptides throughout the purification. Highly purified kinesin had a Vmax of 0.31 mumol/min/mg in the presence of microtubules, with a Km for ATP of 0.20 mM. The kinetic constants obtained in these studies compare favorably with physiological levels of ATP and microtubules. Variations in buffer conditions for the assay were found to affect ATPase activity significantly. A study of the ability of kinesin to utilize a variety of cation-ATP complexes indicated that kinesin is a microtubule-stimulated Mg-ATPase, but kinesin is able to hydrolyze Ca-ATP, Mn-ATP, and Co-ATP as well as Mg-ATP in the presence of microtubules. In the absence of microtubules, Ca-ATP appears to be the best substrate. Studies with several inhibitors of ATPases determined that vanadate inhibited kinesin ATPase at the lowest concentrations of inhibitor, but significant inhibition of the ATPase also occurred with submillimolar concentrations of AMP-PNP. Other inhibitors of kinesin include N-ethylmaleimide, adenosine diphosphate (ADP), pyrophosphate, and tripolyphosphate. Further characterization of the kinetic properties of the kinesin ATPase is important for understanding the molecular mechanisms for transport of membranous organelles along microtubules.