The chemical kinetic mechanism of kinesin (K) is considered by using a consensus scheme incorporating biochemically defined open, closed and trapped states. In the absence of microtubules, the dominant species is a trapped K*ADP state, which is defined by its ultra-slow release of ADP (off rate, k(off) approximately 0.002 s(-1)) and weak microtubule binding (dissociation constant, K(d) approximately 10-20 microM). Once bound, this trapped state equilibrates with a strongly binding open state that rapidly releases ADP (k(off) approximately 300 s(-1)). After ADP release, Mg*ATP binds (on rate, k(on) approximately 2 microM(-1)s(-1)) driving formation of a closed state that is defined by hydrolysis competence and by strong binding to microtubules. Hydrolysis (k(hyd) approximately 100-300 s(-1)) and phosphate release (k(off)>100 s(-1)) both occur in this microtubule-bound closed state. Phosphate release acts as a gate that controls reversion to the trapped K*ADP state, which detaches from the microtubule, completing the cycle.