Initial rate kinetic studies and reduced coenzyme binding studies with bovine glutamate dehydrogenase have shown that an enzyme-NAD(P)H-glutamate abortive complex is a major participant in the overall enzyme-catalyzed reaction. The allosteric regulator ADP is shown to activate the enzyme by destabilizing this abortive complex. Destabilization of this abortive complex with concomitant activation is also achieved by the ethoxyformylation of a single histidine residue per subunit in the hexameric enzyme. ADP, in addition to its activatory effects, is shown to (a) remove the nonlinearity from the Lineweaver-Burk plots which is attributable to negative cooperativity and (b) inhibit the enzyme as a competitive inhibitor with respect to coenzyme under the appropriate conditions. Ethoxyformylation with diethyl pyrocarbonate, which mimics the activatory effects of ADP, has no effect on the negative cooperativity shown by this enzyme. A model for the action of ADP is proposed in which ADP activates glutamate dehydrogenase by binding to a regulatory binding site and blocks the negative cooperativity by mimicking the natural coenzyme at the active site of the enzyme.