The properties of the recombinant ferredoxin-dependent glutamate synthase of Synechocystis PCC6803 were determined by means of kinetic and spectroscopic approaches in comparison to those exhibited by the bacterial NADPH-dependent enzyme form. The ferredoxin-dependent enzyme was found to be similar to the bacterial glutamate synthase alpha subunit with respect to cofactor content (one FMN cofactor and one [3Fe-4S] cluster per enzyme subunit), overall absorbance properties, and reactivity of the FMN N(5) position with sulfite, as expected from the similar primary structure of ferredoxin-dependent glutamate synthase and of the bacterial NADPH-dependent glutamate synthase alpha subunit. The ferredoxin- and NADPH-dependent enzymes were found to differ with respect to the apparent midpoint potential values of the FMN cofactor and of the [3Fe-4S] cluster, which are less negative in the ferredoxin-dependent enzyme form. This feature is, at least in part, responsible for the efficient oxidation of L-glutamate catalyzed by this enzyme form, but not by the bacterial NADPH-dependent counterpart. At variance with earlier reports on ferredoxin-dependent glutamate synthase, in the Synechocystis enzyme the [3Fe-4S] cluster is not equipotential with the flavin cofactor. The present studies also demonstrated that binding of reduced ferredoxin to ferredoxin-dependent glutamate synthase is essential in order to activate reaction steps such as glutamine binding, hydrolysis, or ammonia transfer from the glutamine amidotransferase site to the glutamate synthase site of the enzyme. Thus, ferredoxin-dependent glutamate synthase seems to control and coordinate catalytic activities taking place at its subsites by regulating the reactions of the glutamine amidotransferase site. Association with reduced ferredoxin appears to be necessary, but not sufficient, to trigger the required activating conformational changes.