Mouse lung carbonyl reductase, a member of the short-chain dehydrogenase/reductase (SDR) family, exhibits coenzyme specificity for NADP(H) over NAD(H). Crystal structure of the enzyme-NADPH complex shows that Thr-38 interacts with the 2'-phosphate of NADPH and occupies the position spatially similar to an Asp residue of the NAD(H)-dependent SDRs that hydrogen-bonds to the hydroxyl groups of the adenine ribose of the coenzymes. Using site-directed mutagenesis, we constructed a mutant mouse lung carbonyl reductase in which Thr-38 was replaced by Asp (T38D), and we compared kinetic properties of the mutant and wild-type enzymes in both forward and reverse reactions. The mutation resulted in increases of more than 200-fold in the Km values for NADP(H) and decreases of more than 7-fold in those for NAD(H), but few changes in the Km values for substrates or in the kcat values of the reactions. NAD(H) provided maximal protection against thermal and urea denaturation of T38D, in contrast to the effective protection by NADP(H) for the wild-type enzyme. Thus, the single mutation converted the coenzyme specificity from NADP(H) to NAD(H). Calculation of free energy changes showed that the 2'-phosphate of NADP(H) contributes to its interaction with the wild-type enzyme. Changing Thr-38 to Asp destabilized the binding energies of NADP(H) by 3.9-4.5 kcal/mol and stabilized those of NAD(H) by 1.2-1.4 kcal/mol. These results indicate a significant role of Thr-38 in NADP(H) binding for the mouse lung enzyme and provide further evidence for the key role of Asp at this position in NAD(H) specificity of the SDR family proteins.