In 0.1 M phosphate buffer (pH 7.2), the interaction of chromium(VI) with cysteine in the presence and absence of UV irradiation was studied by cyclic voltammetry and electronic spectroscopy techniques. The reduction of Cr(VI) by cysteine takes place through the formation of Cr(VI)thioester intermediate. On the cyclic voltammograms of cysteine and Cr(VI) mixture, the peaks at -0.315 and -0.800 V were observed, and these peaks are corresponding to the reduction of Cr(VI)-thioester and thiyl radical, respectively. In the cysteine solution exposed to UV irradiation, the formation of free cystine was observed at -0.792 V In the cysteine and Cr(VI) mixture exposed to UV irradiation, the peak current of thiyl radical increases while the peak current of Cr(VI)-thioester reaches a maximum at 15 min and then decreases by increasing UV irradiation time. The formation of the thioester in the reaction between Cr(VI) and cysteine in aqueous media has been studied by monitoring the decrease of Cr(VI) at 370 nm. It was observed that the reaction is catalyzed by the UV irradiation of the Cr(VI) and cysteine mixture. (c) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.