We have used new kinetic fitting procedures to obtain infrared (IR) absolute spectra for intermediates of the main bacteriorhodopsin (bR) photocycle(s). The linear-algebra-based procedures of Hendler et al. (J. Phys. Chem. B, 105, 3319–3228 (2001)) for obtaining clean absolute visible spectra of bR photocycle intermediates were adapted for use with IR data. This led to isolation, for the first time, of corresponding clean absolute IR spectra, including the separation of the M intermediate into its M<sub>F</sub> and M<sub>S</sub> components from parallel photocycles. This in turn permitted the computation of clean IR difference spectra between pairs of successive intermediates, allowing for the most rigorous analysis to date of changes occurring at each step of the photocycle. The statistical accuracy of the spectral calculation methods allows us to identify, with great confidence, new spectral features. One of these is a very strong differential IR band at 1650 cm<sup>1</sup> for the L intermediate at room temperature that is not present in analogous L spectra measured at cryogenic temperatures. This band, in one of the noisiest spectral regions, has not been identified in any previous time-resolved IR papers, although retrospectively it is apparent as one of the strongest L absorbance changes in their raw data, considered collectively. Additionally, our results are most consistent with Arg82 as the primary proton-release group (PRG), rather than a protonated water cluster or H-bonded grouping of carboxylic residues. Notably, the Arg82 deprotonation occurs exclusively in the M<sub>F</sub> pathway of the parallel cycles model of the photocycle.

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