The relaxation dynamics of a zinc protoporphyrin (ZnPP) in THF, KPi buffer, and encapsulated within apomyoglobin (apoMb) was investigated in its excited state using femtosecond fluorescence up-conversion spectroscopy with S 2 excitation (λex = 430 nm). The S2 → S1 internal conversion of ZnPP is ultrafast (τ < 100 fs), and the hot S1 ZnPP species are produced promptly after excitation. The relaxation dynamics of ZnPP in THF solution showed a dominant offset component (τ = 2.0 ns), but it disappeared completely when ZnPP formed aggregates in KPi buffer solution. When ZnPP was reconstituted into the heme pocket of apoMb to form a complex in KPi buffer solution, the fluorescence transients exhibited a biphasic decay feature with the signal approaching an asymptotic offset: at λem = 600 nm, the rapid component decayed in 710 fs and the slow one in 27 ps; at λem = 680 nm, the two time constants were 950 fs and 40 ps. We conclude that (1) the fast-decay component pertains to an efficient transfer of energy from the hot S1 ZnPP species to apoMb through a dative bond between zinc and proximal histidine of the protein; (2) the slow-decay component arises from the water-induced vibrational relaxation of the hot S1 ZnPP species; and (3) the offset component is due to S1 → T1 intersystem crossing of the surviving cold S1 ZnPP species. The transfer of energy through bonds might lead the dative bond to break, which explains our observation of the degradation of ZnPP-Mb samples in UV - vis and CD spectra upon protracted excitation.