Most methods for studying the kinetic properties of an enzyme involve the determination of initial velocities. When the reaction progress curve shows significant curvature due to depletion of the substrate, accumulation of inhibitory products or instability of the enzyme, estimation of the initial velocity is a subjective and inexact process. Two methods have been suggested [Cornish-Bowden (1975) Biochem. J. 144, 305-312; Boeker (1982) Biochem J. 203, 117-123] that attempt to eliminate this subjective element. The present study offers a third alternative, which is based on fitting a reparameterized form of the integrated Michaelis-Menten equation to the progress curves by non-linear regression. This method yields estimates and standard errors of the initial velocity and of the time to reach 50% reaction. No prior knowledge of the apparent product concentration at zero time or infinite time is required, since both of these quantities are also estimated from the data. It is shown that this method yields reliable estimates of the initial velocity under a wide range of circumstances, including those where the two previously published methods perform poorly.

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