The transient kinetics of glucose binding to glucokinase (GK) was studied using stopped-flow fluorescence spectrophotometry to investigate the underlying mechanism of positive cooperativity of monomeric GK with glucose. Glucose binding to GK was shown to display biphasic kinetics that fit best to a reversible two-step mechanism. GK initially binds glucose to form a transient intermediate, namely, E* x glucose, followed by a conformational change to a catalytically competent E x glucose complex. The microscopic rate constants for each step were determined as follows: on rate k1 of 557 M(-1) s(-1) and off rate k(-1) of 8.1 s(-1) for E* x glucose formation, and forward rate k2 of 0.45 s(-1) and reverse rate k(-2) of 0.28 s(-1) for the conformational change from E* x glucose to E x glucose. These results suggest that the enzyme conformational change induced by glucose binding is a reversible, slow event that occurs outside the catalytic cycle (kcat = 38 s(-1)). This slow transition between the two enzyme conformations modulated by glucose likely forms the kinetic foundation for the allosteric regulation. Furthermore, the kinetics of the enzyme conformational change was altered in favor of E x glucose formation in D2O, accompanied by a decrease in cooperativity with glucose (Hill slope of 1.3 in D2O vs 1.7 in H2O). The deuterium solvent isotope effects confirm the role of the conformational change in the magnitude of glucose cooperativity. Similar studies were conducted with GK activating mutation Y214C at the allosteric activator site that is likely involved in the protein domain rearrangement associated with glucose binding. The mutation enhanced equilibrium glucose binding by a combination of effects on both the formation of E* x glucose and an enzyme conformational change to E x glucose. Kinetic simulation by KINSIM supports the conclusion that the kinetic cooperativity of GK arises from slow glucose-induced conformational changes in GK.