CobU is a bifunctional enzyme involved in adenosylcobalamin (coenzyme B(12)) biosynthesis in Salmonella typhimurium LT2. In this bacterium, CobU is the adenosylcobinamide kinase/adenosylcobinamide-phosphate guanylyltransferase needed to convert cobinamide to adenosylcobinamide-GDP during the late steps of adenosylcobalamin biosynthesis. The guanylyltransferase reaction has been proposed to proceed via a covalently modified CobU-GMP intermediate. Here we show that CobU requires a nucleoside upper ligand on cobinamide for substrate recognition, with the nucleoside base, but not the 2'-OH group of the ribose, being important for this recognition. During the kinase reaction, both the nucleotide base and the 2'-OH group of the ribose are important for gamma-phosphate donor recognition, and GTP is the only nucleotide competent for the complete nucleotidyltransferase reaction. Analysis of the ATP:adenosylcobinamide kinase reaction shows CobU becomes less active during this reaction due to the formation of a covalent CobU-AMP complex that holds CobU in an altered conformation. Characterization of the GTP:adenosylcobinamide-phosphate guanylyltransferase reaction shows the covalent CobU-GMP intermediate is on the reaction pathway for the generation of adenosylcobinamide-GDP. Identification of a modified histidine and analysis of cobU mutants indicate that histidine 46 is the site of guanylylation.