Muconate cycloisomerases play a crucial role in the bacterial degradation of aromatic compounds by converting cis,cis-muconate, the product of catechol ring cleavage, to (4S)-muconolactone. Chloromuconate cycloisomerases catalyze both the corresponding reaction and a dehalogenation reaction in the transformation of chloroaromatic compounds. This study reports the first thorough examination of the substrate specificity of the muconate cycloisomerases from Pseudomonas putida PRS2000 and Acinetobacter “calcoaceticus” ADP1. We show that they transform, in addition to cis,cis-muconate, 3-fluoro-, 2-methyl-, and 3-methyl-cis,cis-muconate with high specificity constants but not 2-fluoro-, 2-chloro-, 3-chloro-, or 2,4-dichloro-cis,cis-muconate. Based on known three-dimensional structures, variants of P. putida muconate cycloisomerase were constructed by site-directed mutagenesis to contain amino acids found in equivalent positions in chloromuconate cycloisomerases. Some of the variants had significantly increased specificity constants for 3-chloro- or 2,4-dichloromuconate (e.g., A271S and I54V showed 27- and 22-fold increases, respectively, for the former substrate). These kinetic improvements were not accompanied by a change from protoanemonin to cis,cis-dienelactone as the product of 3-chloro-cis,cis-muconate conversion. The rate of 2-chloro-cis,cis-muconate turnover was not significantly improved, nor was this compound dehalogenated to any significant extent. However, the direction of 2-chloro-cis,cis-muconate cycloisomerization could be influenced by amino acid exchange. While the wild-type enzyme discriminated only slightly between the two possible cycloisomerization directions, some of the enzyme variants showed a strong preference for either (+)-2-chloro- or (+)-5-chloromuconolactone formation. These results show that the different catalytic characteristics of muconate and chloromuconate cycloisomerases are due to a number of features that can be changed independently of each other.