Iron and manganese hemes are "high-valent" when the valence state of the metal exceeds III. Redox chemistry of the high valent metal complexes involves redistribution of holes and electrons over the metal ion and the porphyrin and axial ligands, defined as valence tautomerism. Thus, catalytic pathways of heme-containing biomolecules such as peroxidases, catalases and cytochromes P450 involve valence tautomerism, as do pathways of biomimetic oxygen transfer catalysis by manganese porphyrins, robust catalysts with potential commercial value. Determinants of the site of electron abstraction are key to understanding valence tautomerism. In model systems, metal-centered oxidation is supported by hard anionic axial ligands that are also strongly π-donating, such as oxo, aryl, bix-methoxy and bis-fluoro groups. Manganese(IV) is more stable than iron(IV) and metal-centered one-electron oxidations occur with weaker π-donating axial ligands such as bisazido, -isocyanato, -hypochlorito and bis chloro groups. Virtually all known high-valent iron porphyrin complexes oxidized by two-electrons above the ferric state are coordinated by the strongly π-donating oxo or nitrido ligands. In all well -characterized oxo complexes, iron is in the ferryl state and the second oxidizing equivalent resides on the porphyrin. Complexes with iron(V) have not been definitively characterized. One-electron oxidation of oxomanganese(IV) porphyrin complexes gives the oxomanganese(IV) porphyrin π-cation redicals. In aqueous solution, oxidation of Mn(III) complexes of tetra cationic N-methylpyridiniumylporphyrin isomers by monooxygen donors yields a transient oxomanganese(V) species.