The photoelectron spectrum (PES) of the uracil anion is reported and discussed from the perspective of quantum chemical calculations of the vertical detachment energies (VDEs) of the anions of various tautomers of uracil. The PES peak maximum is found at an electron binding energy of 2.4 eV, and the width of the main feature suggests that the parent anions are in a valence rather than a dipole-bound state. The canonical tautomer as well as four tautomers that result from proton transfer from an NH group to a C atom were investigated computationally. At the Hartree-Fock and second-order Møller-Plesset perturbation theory levels, the adiabatic electron affinity (AEA) and the VDE have been converged to the limit of a complete basis set to within ±1 meV. Post-MP2 electron-correlation effects have been determined at the coupled-cluster level of theory including single, double, and noniterative triple excitations. The quantum chemical calculations suggest that the most stable valence anion of uracil is the anion of a tautomer that results from a proton transfer from N1H to C5. It is characterized by an AEA of 135 meV and a VDE of 1.38 eV. The peak maximum is as much as 1 eV larger, however, and the photoelectron intensity is only very weak at 1.38 eV. The PES does not lend support either to the valence anion of the canonical tautomer, which is the second most stable anion, and whose VDE is computed at about 0.60 eV. Agreement between the peak maximum and the computed VDE is only found for the third most stable tautomer, which shows an AEA of ˜-0.1 eV and a VDE of 2.58 eV. This tautomer results from a proton transfer from N3H to C5. The results illustrate that the characteristics of biomolecular anions are highly dependent on their tautomeric form. If indeed the third most stable anion is observed in the experiment, then it remains an open question why and how this species is formed under the given conditions. © 2008 American Institute of Physics.