A steady state kinetic investigation of the Pi activation of 5-phospho-D-ribosyl α-1-diphosphate synthase from Escherichia coli suggests that Pi can bind randomly to the enzyme either before or after an ordered addition of free Mg2+ and substrates. Unsaturation with ribose 5-phosphate increased the apparent cooperativity of Pi activation. At unsaturating Pi concentrations partial substrate inhibition by ribose 5-phosphate was observed. Together these results suggest that saturation of the enzyme with Pi directs the subsequent ordered binding of Mg2+ and substrates via a fast pathway, whereas saturation with ribose 5-phosphate leads to the binding of Mg2+ and substrates via a slow pathway where Pi binds to the enzyme last. The random mechanism for Pi binding was further supported by studies with competitive inhibitors of Mg2+, MgATP, and ribose 5-phosphate that all appeared noncompetitive when varying Pi at either saturating or unsaturating ribose 5-phosphate concentrations. Furthermore, none of the inhibitors induced inhibition at increasing Pi concentrations. Results from ADP inhibition of Pi activation suggest that these effectors compete for binding to a common regulatory site.