We report the low temperature carbon monoxide recombination kinetics after photolysis and the temperature dependence of the visible absorption spectra of the isolated alpha SH-CO and beta SH-CO subunits from human hemoglobin A in ethylene glycol/water and in glycerol/water mixtures. Kinetic measurements on sperm whale (Physeter catodon) myoglobin and previously published optical spectroscopy data on the latter protein and on human hemoglobin A, in both solvents, (Cordone, L., A. Cupane, M. Leone, E. Vitrano, and D. Bulone. 1988. J. Mol. Biol. 199:312-218) are taken as reference. Low temperature flash photolysis data are analyzed within the multiple substates model proposed by Frauenfelder and co-workers (Austin, R. H., K. W. Beeson, L. Eisenstein, H. Frauenfelder, and I. C. Gunsalus. 1975. Biochemistry. 14:5355-5373). Within this model a distribution of activation enthalpies for ligand binding accounts for the structural heterogeneity of the protein, while the preexponential factor, containing also the entropic contribution to the free energy of the process, is considered to be constant for all conformational substates. Optical spectra are deconvoluted in gaussian components and the temperature dependence of the moments of the resulting bands is analyzed, within the harmonic Frank-Condon approximation, to obtain information on the stereodynamic properties of the heme pocket. The kinetic and spectral parameters thus obtained are found to be protein dependent also with respect to their sensitivity to changes in the composition of the external medium. A close correlation between the kinetic and spectral features is observed for the proteins examined under all experimental conditions studied. The results reported are discussed in terms of differences in the heme pocket structure and in the conformational heterogeneity among the various proteins, as related to their different capability to accommodate constraints imposed by the external medium.