Both O2 and H2O2 can oxidize iron at the ferroxidase center (FC) of Escherichia coli bacterioferritin (EcBfr) but mechanistic details of the two reactions need clarification. UV/Vis, EPR, and Mössbauer spectroscopies have been used to follow the reactions when apo‐EcBfr, pre‐loaded anaerobically with Fe2+, was exposed to O2 or H2O2. We show that O2 binds di‐Fe2+ FC reversibly, two Fe2+ ions are oxidized in concert and a H2O2 molecule is formed and released to the solution. This peroxide molecule further oxidizes another di‐Fe2+ FC, at a rate circa 1000 faster than O2, ensuring an overall 1:4 stoichiometry of iron oxidation by O2. Initially formed Fe3+ can further react with H2O2 (producing protein bound radicals) but relaxes within seconds to an H2O2‐unreactive di‐Fe3+ form. The data obtained suggest that the primary role of EcBfr in vivo may be to detoxify H2O2 rather than sequester iron.