The enzyme BchM (S-adenosyl-L-methionine:magnesium-protoporphyrin IX O-methyltransferase) from Rhodobacter capsulatus catalyses an intermediate reaction in the bacteriochlorophyll biosynthetic pathway. Overexpression of His6-tagged protein in Escherichia coli resulted in the majority of polypeptide existing as inclusion bodies. Purification from inclusion bodies was performed using metal-affinity chromatography after an elaborate wash step involving surfactant polysorbate-20. Initial enzymatic assays involved an in situ generation of S-adenosyl-L-methionine substrate using a crude preparation of S-adenosyl-L-methionine synthetase and this resulted in higher enzymatic activity compared with commercial S-adenosyl-L-methionine. A heat-stable stimulatory component present in the S-adenosyl-L-methionine synthetase was found to be a phospholipid, which increased enzymatic activity 3-4-fold. Purified phospholipids also stabilized enzymatic activity and caused a disaggregation of the protein to lower molecular mass forms, which ranged from monomeric to multimeric species as determined by size-exclusion chromatography. There was no stimulatory effect observed with magnesium-chelatase subunits on methyltransferase activity using His-BchM that had been stabilized with phospholipids. Substrate specificity of the enzyme was limited to 5-co-ordinate square-pyramidal metalloporphyrins, with magnesium-protoporphyrin IX being the superior substrate followed by zinc-protoporphyrin IX and magnesium- deuteroporphyrin. Kinetic analysis indicated a random sequential reaction mechanism. Three non-substrate metalloporphyrins acted as inhibitors with different modes of inhibition exhibited with manganese III-protoporphyrin IX (non-competitive or uncompetitive) compared with cobalt II-protoporphyrin IX (competitive).