Undecaprenyl pyrophosphate synthase (UPPs) catalyzes the condensation of eight molecules of isopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP) with farnesyl pyrophosphate (FPP) to generate C(55) undecaprenyl pyrophosphate. We investigated the kinetics and mechanism of this reaction pathway using Escherichia coli UPPs. With a variety of different ratios of enzyme to substrate and FPP to IPP in the presence or absence of Triton, different product distributions were found. In the presence of excess FPP, the intermediates (C(25)-C(50)) accumulated. Under a condition with enzyme and FPP in excess of IPP, instead of C(20)-geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate, C(20), C(25), and C(30) were the major products. The UPPs steady-state k(cat) value (2.5 s(-1)) in the presence of 0.1% Triton was 190-fold larger than in the absence of Triton (0.013 s(-1)). The k(cat) value matched the rate constant of each IPP condensation obtained from the enzyme single-turnover experiments. This suggested that the IPP condensation rather than product release was the rate-limiting step in the presence of Triton. In the absence of Triton, the intermediates formed and disappeared in a similar manner under enzyme single turnover in contrast to the slow steady-state rate, which indicated a step after product generation was rate limiting. This was further supported by a burst product formation. Judging from the accumulation level of C(55), C(60), and C(65), their dissociation from the enzyme cannot be too slow and an even slower enzyme conformational change with a rate of 0.001 s(-1) might govern the UPPs reaction rate under the steady-state condition in the absence of Triton.