The bacterial protein complex Mnx contains a multicopper oxidase (MCO) MnxG that, unusually, catalyzes the two-electron oxidation of Mn(II) to MnO2 biomineral, via a Mn(III) intermediate. Although Mn(III)/Mn(II) and Mn(IV)/Mn(III) reduction potentials are expected to be high, we find a low reduction potential, 0.38 V (vs Normal Hydrogen Electrode, pH 7.8), for the MnxG type 1 Cu2+, the electron acceptor. Indeed the type 1 Cu2+ is not reduced by Mn(II) in the absence of molecular oxygen, indicating that substrate oxidation requires an activation step. We have investigated the enzyme mechanism via electronic absorption spectroscopy, using chemometric analysis to separate enzyme-catalyzed MnO2 formation from MnO2 nanoparticle aging. The nanoparticle aging time course is characteristic of nucleation and particle growth; rates for these processes followed expected dependencies on Mn(II) concentration and temperature, but exhibited different pH optima. The enzymatic time course is sigmoidal, signaling an activation step, prior to turnover. The Mn(II) concentration and pH dependence of a preceding lag phase indicates weak Mn(II) binding. The activation step is enabled by a pKa > 8.6 deprotonation, which is assigned to Mn(II)-bound H2O; it induces a conformation change (consistent with a high activation energy, 106 kJ/mol) that increases Mn(II) affinity. Mnx activation is proposed to decrease the Mn(III/II) reduction potential below that of type 1 Cu(II/I) by formation of a hydroxide-bridged binuclear complex, Mn(II)(μ-OH)Mn(II), at the substrate site. Turnover is found to depend cooperatively on two Mn(II) and is enabled by a pKa 7.6 double deprotonation. It is proposed that turnover produces a Mn(III)(μ-OH)2Mn(III) intermediate that proceeds to the enzyme product, likely Mn(IV)(μ-O)2Mn(IV) or an oligomer, which subsequently nucleates MnO2 nanoparticles. We conclude that Mnx exploits manganese polynuclear chemistry in order to facilitate an otherwise difficult oxidation reaction, as well as biomineralization. The mechanism of the Mn(III/IV) conversion step is elucidated in an accompanying paper .