The rates of electron transfer from a ubiquinol analogue to cytochrome c2 catalyzed by the cytochrome bc1 complexes of Rhodobacter capsulatus and Rhodopseudomonas viridis were measured as a function of ionic strength. The effects of ionic strength on the kinetic parameters for the reactions are consistent with a role for electrostatic complex formation between cytochrome c2 and the cytochrome bc1 complex in the electron-transfer pathways in both photosynthetic purple non-sulfur bacteria. Additional support for a docking model in which positively charged lysines on cytochrome c2 interact with negatively charged groups on the Rb. capsulatus cytochrome bc1 complex was obtained from kinetic experiments using Rb. capsulatus cytochrome c2 and equine cytochrome c in which specific lysine residues were altered by site-directed mutagenesis and chemical modification, respectively. Equine cytochrome c, which is a poor electron donor to the reaction center of Rps. viridis, is an effective electron acceptor for the Rps. viridis cytochrome bc1 complex. Chemical modification of lysine residues on Rps. viridis cytochrome c2 has a substantially greater effect on the reduction of the Rps. viridis reaction center by ferrocytochrome c2 than on the oxidation of the Rps. viridis cytochrome bc1 complex by ferricytochrome c2. These data suggest that the docking site for Rps. viridis cytochrome c2 on the Rps. viridis reaction center tetraheme subunit differs in structure from the docking site for the cytochrome on the Rps. viridis cytochrome bc1 complex to a significant extent. In this respect, Rps. viridis differs from photosynthetic purple non-sulfur bacteria in which the reaction center does not contain a tetraheme subunit, where the binding sites for cytochrome c2 on the reaction center and the cytochrome bc1 complex appear to be quite similar.