The ribosomal peptidyl transferase center is a ribozyme catalyzing peptide bond synthesis in all organisms. We applied a novel modified nucleoside interference approach to identify functional groups at 9 universally conserved active site residues. Owing to their immediate proximity to the chemical center, the 23S rRNA nucleosides A2451, U2506 and U2585 were of particular interest. Our study ruled out U2506 and U2585 as contributors of vital chemical groups for transpeptidation. In contrast the ribose 2'-OH of A2451 was identified as the prime ribosomal group with potential functional importance. This 2'-OH renders almost full catalytic power to the ribosome even when embedded into an active site of six neighboring 2'-deoxyribose nucleosides. These data highlight the unique functional role of the A2451 2'-OH for peptide bond synthesis among all other functional groups at the ribosomal peptidyl transferase active site.