A transcriptional attenuation mechanism regulates expression of the bacterial tnaCAB operon. This mechanism requires ribosomal arrest induced by the regulatory nascent TnaC peptide in response to free L-tryptophan (L-Trp). In this study we demonstrate, using genetic and biochemical analyses, that in Escherichia coli, TnaC residue I19 and 23S rRNA nucleotide A2058 are essential for the ribosome's ability to sense free L-Trp. We show that the mutational change A2058U in 23S rRNA reduces the concentration dependence of L-Trp-mediated tna operon induction, whereas the TnaC I19L change suppresses this phenotype, restoring the sensitivity of the translating A2058U mutant ribosome to free L-Trp. These findings suggest that interactions between TnaC residue I19 and 23S rRNA nucleotide A2058 contribute to the creation of a regulatory L-Trp binding site within the translating ribosome.