Amino acid availability in Gram-positive bacteria is monitored by T-box riboswitches. T-boxes directly bind tRNAs, assess their aminoacylation state, and regulate the transcription or translation of downstream genes to maintain nutritional homeostasis. Here, we report cocrystal and cryo-EM structures of Geobacillus kaustophilus and Bacillus subtilis T-box-tRNA complexes, detailing their multivalent, exquisitely selective interactions. The T-box forms a U-shaped molecular vise that clamps the tRNA, captures its 3' end using an elaborate 'discriminator' structure, and interrogates its aminoacylation state using a steric filter fashioned from a wobble base pair. In the absence of aminoacylation, T-boxes clutch tRNAs and form a continuously stacked central spine, permitting transcriptional readthrough or translation initiation. A modeled aminoacyl disrupts tRNA-T-box stacking, severing the central spine and blocking gene expression. Our data establish a universal mechanism of amino acid sensing on tRNAs and gene regulation by T-box riboswitches and exemplify how higher-order RNA-RNA interactions achieve multivalency and specificity.