Proteorhodopsins (PRs), photoactive retinylidene membrane proteins ubiquitous in marine eubacteria, exhibit light-driven proton transport activity similar to that of the well studied bacteriorhodopsin from halophilic archaea. However, unlike bacteriorhodopsin, PRs have a single highly conserved histidine located near the photoactive site of the protein. Time-resolved Fourier transform IR difference spectroscopy combined with visible absorption spectroscopy, isotope labeling, and electrical measurements of light-induced charge movements reveal participation of His-75 in the proton translocation mechanism of PR. Substitution of His-75 with Ala or Glu perturbed the structure of the photoactive site and resulted in significantly shifted visible absorption spectra. In contrast, His-75 substitution with a positively charged Arg did not shift the visible absorption spectrum of PR. The mutation to Arg also blocks the light-induced proton transfer from the Schiff base to its counterion Asp-97 during the photocycle and the acid-induced protonation of Asp-97 in the dark state of the protein. Isotope labeling of histidine revealed that His-75 undergoes deprotonation during the photocycle in the proton-pumping (high pH) form of PR, a reaction further supported by results from H75E. Finally, all His-75 mutations greatly affect charge movements within the PR and shift its pH dependence to acidic values. A model of the proteorhodopsin proton transport process is proposed as follows: (i) in the dark state His-75 is positively charged (protonated) over a wide pH range and interacts directly with the Schiff base counterion Asp-97; and (ii) photoisomerization-induced transfer of the Schiff base proton to the Asp-97 counterion disrupts its interaction with His-75 and triggers a histidine deprotonation.