Exploration of the effect of ligand-protein interactions on conformational substates and internal dynamics in different regions of phospholipase A2 from porcine pancreas (PLA2), was performed by combining site-directed mutagenesis and time-resolved fluorescence measurements. The single tryptophan residue (Trp-3) in the wild type protein was replaced by a phenylalanine residue, whereafter Trp was substituted either for leucine-31 ,located in the calcium binding loop, or for phenylalanine-94, located at the "back side" of the enzyme, in a-helix E (Dijkstra et al., J. Mol. Biol., 147, 97-123, 1981). Analyses by the Maximum Entropy Method (MIEM) of the total fluorescence intensity decays, provide in each case a distribution of separate lifetime classes, which can be interpreted as reflecting the existence of discrete conformational substates in slow exchange with respect to the time-scale of the decay kinetics. The fluorescence decay of the W94 mutant is dominated by an extremely short excited state lifetime of ~60 ps, probably arising from the presence of two proximate disulfide bridges. Time-resolved fluorescence anisotropy studies show that the Trp residue near the NH2 terminus (Trp-3) undergoes a more limited rotational motion than the Trp-3 1 located in the calcium binding loop. The widest angular rotation is observed at position 94, in a-helix E. Calcium binding displays the strongest influence on the lifetime distribution of Trp-31: a major local conformation corresponding to a lifetime class with a barycenter value of ~5.5 ns and contributing to ~50% of the decay is selected. The conformations giving rise to the short lifetimes ((tau)1 and (tau)2 lifetime classes) become less important. The contribution of the third lifetime class (c3) stays at a constant value of 30%. In the presence of calcium, the amplitude of motion is wider than without the ion. There is virtually no effect of calcium binding on the lifetime distribution of the Trp residue at the 3 or the 94 position. Binding of the monomeric substrate analog n-dodecylphosphocholine (C12PN) in the presence of calcium hardly affects neither the Trp-3 excited state population distribution, nor its rotational dynamics. The binding of C12PN monomers to the W31 mutant further increases the contribution of the t4lifetime class at the expense of c2. A more restricted rotation of the Trp-31 residue is also induced. The binding of the micellar substrate analog n-hexadecylphosphocholine (C16PN) in the presence of calcium is very efficient in modifying the lifetime distribution of Trp-3. Essentially, one major broad lifetime population (centered at ~2.6 ns) is revealed by MEM analysis of the total intensity decay. The internal motion is slowed down and the angle of rotation is much smaller in this conformation. Neither the excited state lifetime distribution of Trp-31 nor its dynamics are affected by micelle binding relative to monomer binding. In conclusion, by placing a single Tip-residue at strategic positions along the peptide chain of PLA2, relevant to the binding of biological ligands, an excellent model system for the study of selective perturbations of conformational substates and internal dynamics is provided.