Plant threonine synthase, in contrast to its bacterial counterpart, is strongly stimulated by S-adenosylmethionine via a noncovalent interaction [Giovanelli et al. (1984) Plant. Physiol. 76, 285-292]. The mechanism of activation remained, however, largely unknown. To further characterize this unusual role for S-adenosylmethionine, the Arabidopsis thaliana threonine synthase was overexpressed in Escherichia coli, purified to homogeneity, and then used for kinetic and enzyme-bound pyridoxal 5'-phosphate fluorescence equilibrium-binding experiments. We observed that the activating effect of S-adenosylmethionine results from an 8-fold increase in the rate of catalysis and from a 25-fold decrease in the Km value for the O-phosphohomoserine substrate. The data can be well fitted by a kinetic model assuming binding of two S-adenosylmethionine molecules on the native enzyme. We suggest that the dramatic modifications of the enzyme kinetic properties originate most presumably from an allosteric and cooperative transition induced by S-adenosylmethionine. This transition occurs at a much faster rate in the presence of the substrate than in its absence.