The reversible folding of cytochrome c in urea at pH 4.0 was investigated by repetitive pressure perturbation kinetics and by equilibrium spectroscopic methods. Two folding reactions were observed in the 1 ms to 10 s time range. The rates and amplitudes of these reactions depend on urea concentration in a complex manner, which is different for each process. The absorbance spectra of the kinetic amplitudes of the two reactions also differ from each other. A model with a three-state mechanism can quantitatively account for all of the kinetic and equilibrium data, and it enables us to determine the rate constants and volume changes of the two steps. If a rapid protonation step is added to the mechanism, the analysis can be extended to calculate the pH dependence of the rate and amplitude of the faster folding step. This pH dependence is in excellent agreement with previously published data [Tsong, T.Y. (1977) J. Biol. Chem. 252, 8778-8780]. Kinetic experiments in the 695-nm band show clearly that the axial ligand methionine-80 is involved in the slow folding process and the other axial ligand, histidine-18, is involved in the fast process. Additional experiments with a cyanogen bromide fragment of the protein, and fluorescence detection of the folding kinetics of the intact protein, support an interpretation of the model in terms of known structural elements of cytochromec. This work provides new information about the mechanism of the folding of cytochrome c, resolves conflicts in earlier interpretations, and demonstrates the applicability of the repetitive pressure perturbation kinetics method to protein folding.