A reactive transport computer code has been employed to model hydrothermal alteration of a granitoid rock bordering a discrete vein channel. The model suggests that the grey sericitic and sericitic with remnant biotite alteration envelopes at the porphyry copper deposit at Butte, Montana, can be formed by a reducing, low pH, and low salinity fluid under constant temperature and pressure conditions of approximately 400 °C and less than 100 MPa during a time span of approximately 100 years or less. Hydrothermal alteration has little effect on the porosity of the host rock (Butte Quartz Monzonite), and the diffusivity of the aqueous species also changes little. A sequence of mineral reaction fronts characterizes the alteration envelopes. The biotite dissolution front occurs closest to the vein channel and marks the transition from the grey sericitic to sericitic with remnant biotite envelope. The plagioclase dissolution front occurs farthest into the matrix and marks the edge of relatively fresh Butte Quartz Monzonite. From the properties of the quasi-stationary state approximation (Lichtner 1988; Lichtner 1991), it follows that once the sequence of reaction fronts is fully established, their relative locations remain constant and the widths of the reaction zones increase with the square root of time.