For tRNA-dependent protein biosynthesis, amino acids are first activated by aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (aaRSs) yielding the reaction intermediates aminoacyl-AMP (aa-AMP). Stable analogues of aa-AMP, such as aminoacyl-sulfamoyl-adenosines, inhibit their cognate aaRSs. Glutamyl-sulfamoyl-adenosine (Glu-AMS) is the best known inhibitor of Escherichia coli glutamyl-tRNA synthetase (GluRS). Thermodynamic parameters of the interactions between Glu-AMS and E. coli GluRS were measured in the presence and in the absence of tRNA by isothermal titration microcalorimetry. A significant entropic contribution for the interactions between Glu-AMS and GluRS in the absence of tRNA or in the presence of the cognate tRNAGlu or of the non-cognate tRNAPhe is indicated by the negative values of -TΔSb, and by the negative value of ΔCp. On the other hand, the large negative enthalpy is the dominant contribution to ΔGb in the absence of tRNA. The affinity of GluRS for Glu-AMS is not altered in the presence of the non-cognate tRNAPhe, but the dissociation constant Kd is decreased 50-fold in the presence of tRNAGlu; this result is consistent with molecular dynamics results indicating the presence of an H-bond between Glu-AMS and the 3'-OH oxygen of the 3'-terminal ribose of tRNAGlu in the Glu-AMS•GluRS•tRNAGlu complex. Glu-AMS being a very close structural analogue of Glu-AMP, its weak binding to free GluRS suggests that the unstable Glu-AMP reaction intermediate binds weakly to GluRS; these results could explain why all the known GluRSs evolved to activate glutamate only in the presence of tRNAGlu, the coupling of glutamate activation to its transfer to tRNA preventing unproductive cleavage of ATP.