The mechanical stability of human hemoglobin mutants was studied for the specific effects of single and double amino acid substitutions, the ligand state of each chain, and the effect of hybrids between oxy and cyanmet partners on precipitability. It was found that the beta6Glu leads to Val and the beta73 Asp leads to Asn mutations increased the degree of mechanical precipitation in the liganded but not in the deoxy form. When these mutations occurred on the same chain, the effects were approximately additive. Heat labile mutants such as Hb Gun Hill and Hb Leiden exhibited mechanical instability, but probably through a different mechanism, as very little dependence on ligand state was apparent. Studies with valency hybrids of HbS(alpha2 betas2-and-alpha2 betas2 where = cyanmet) revealed that instability was primarily determined by the state of the betas chain, which must be liganded to confer instability on the tetramer. A good agreement between surface activity and mechanical precipitability of these mutants has been found.