Resonance Raman (RR) spectroscopy is used to examine porphyrin substrate, product, and inhibitor interactions with the active site of murine ferrochelatase (EC 22.214.171.124), the terminal enzyme in the biosynthesis of heme. The enzyme catalyzes in vivo Fe2+ chelation into protoporphyrin IX to give heme. The RR spectra of native ferrochelatase show that the protein, as isolated, contains varying amounts of endogenously bound high- or low-spin ferric heme, always at much less than 1 equiv. RR data on the binding of free-base protoporphyrin IX and its metalated complexes (Fe(III), Fe(II), and Ni(II)) to active wild-type protein were obtained at varying ratios of porphyrin to protein. The binding of ferric heme, a known inhibitor of the enzyme, leads to the formation of a low-spin six-coordinate adduct. Ferrous heme, the enzyme's natural product, binds in the ferrous high-spin five-coordinate state. Ni(II) protoporphyrin, a metalloporphyrin that has a low tendency toward axial ligation, becomes distorted when bound to ferrochelatase. Similarly for free-base protoporphyrin, the natural substrate of ferrochelatase, the RR spectra of porphyrin-protein complexes reveal a saddling distortion of the porphyrin. These results corroborate and extend our previous findings that porphyrin distortion, a crucial step of the catalytic mechanism, occurs even in the absence of bound metal substrate. Moreover, RR data reveal the presence of an amino acid residue in the active site of ferrochelatase which is capable of specific axial ligation to metals.