In the repair of the damage to bases, human apurinic/apyrimidinic (AP) endonuclease 1 (APE1) is a key participant via the DNA base excision repair pathway. APE1 cleaves AP sites in DNA, which are potentially cytotoxic and highly mutagenic if left unrepaired. According to existing structural data, this enzyme's active site contains many polar amino acid residues, which form extensive contacts with a DNA substrate. A few alternative catalytic mechanisms of the phosphodiester bond hydrolysis by APE1 have been reported. Here, the kinetics of conformational changes of the enzyme and of DNA substrate molecules were studied during the recognition and cleavage of the abasic site in the pH range from 5.5 to 9.0 using stopped-flow fluorescence techniques. The activity of APE1 increased with an increase in pH because of acceleration of the rates of catalytic complex formation and of the catalytic reaction. Molecular dynamics simulation uncovered a significant increase in the pKa of His-309 located in the active site of the enzyme. This finding revealed that the observed enhancement of enzymatic activity with pH could be associated with deprotonation of not only Tyr-171 but also His-309. The obtained data allowed us to hypothesize that the ionized state of these residues could be a molecular switch between the alternative catalytic mechanisms, which involve different functionalities of these residues throughout the reaction.