Transition state analogue (TSA) complexes formed by phosphoglycerate kinase (PGK) have been used to test the hypothesis that balancing of charge within the transition state dominates enzyme-catalyzed phosphoryl transfer. High-resolution structures of trifluoromagnesate (MgF(3)(-)) and tetrafluoroaluminate (AlF(4)(-)) complexes of PGK have been determined using X-ray crystallography and (19)F-based NMR methods, revealing the nature of the catalytically relevant state of this archetypal metabolic kinase. Importantly, the side chain of K219, which coordinates the alpha-phosphate group in previous ground state structures, is sequestered into coordinating the metal fluoride, thereby creating a charge environment complementary to the transferring phosphoryl group. In line with the dominance of charge balance in transition state organization, the substitution K219A induces a corresponding reduction in charge in the bound aluminum fluoride species, which changes to a trifluoroaluminate (AlF(3)(0)) complex. The AlF(3)(0) moiety retains the octahedral geometry observed within AlF(4)(-) TSA complexes, which endorses the proposal that some of the widely reported trigonal AlF(3)(0) complexes of phosphoryl transfer enzymes may have been misassigned and in reality contain MgF(3)(-).