The intestinal protozoan pathogen Entamoeba histolytica lacks mitochondria and derives energy from the fermentation of glucose to ethanol with pyruvate, acetyl enzyme Co-A, and acetaldehyde as intermediates. A key enzyme in this pathway may be the 97-kDa bifunctional E. histolytica alcohol dehydrogenase 2 (EhADH2), which possesses both alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and acetaldehyde dehydrogenase activity (ALDH). EhADH2 appears to be a fusion protein, with separate N-terminal ALDH and C-terminal ADH domains. Here, we demonstrate that EhADH2 expression is required for E. histolytica growth and survival. We find that a mutant EhADH2 enzyme containing the C-terminal 453 amino acids of EhADH2 has ADH activity but lacks ALDH activity. However, a mutant consisting of the N-terminal half of EhADH2 possessed no ADH or ALDH activity. Alteration of a single histidine to arginine in the putative active site of the ADH domain eliminates both ADH and ALDH activity, and this mutant EhADH2 can serve as a dominant negative, eliminating both ADH and ALDH activity when co-expressed with wild-type EhADH2 in Escherichia coli. These data indicate that EhADH2 enzyme is required for E. histolytica growth and survival and that the C-terminal ADH domain of the enzyme functions as a separate entity. However, ALDH activity requires residues in both the N- and C-terminal halves of the molecule.