Low temperature absorption and linear dichroism (LD) measurements were performed on oriented membranes containing wild type Rhodobacter sphaeroides reaction centers, a mutant reaction center with the change Phe M197 to Arg (FM197R), and a double mutant reaction center where, in addition, Gly M203 was replaced by Asp (FM197R/GM203D). The monomeric bacteriochlorophyll band (B), which is highly congested in the wild type reaction center, was separated into two bands in the mutant reaction centers peaking 10 nm (single mutant) or 15 nm (double mutant) apart. This separation arose principally from changes in the interaction of the protein with the L-side monomer bacteriochlorophyll BL.-The ability to separate the B bands is extremely useful in spectroscopic studies. The orientations of the two monomer-type transitions contributing to the B band were similar in all three reaction centres studied, and were asymmetric with respect to the orientation axis, with the transition mostly associated with BL making a smaller angle with the C2 axis. Differences in the LD observed in wild type membrane-bound or isolated reaction centers can be ascribed either to differences in shifts of the B transitions or to differences in the orientation axis.