An RNA guanylyltransferase activity is involved in the synthesis of the cap structure found at the 5' end of eukaryotic mRNAs. The RNA guanylyltransferase activity is a two-step ping-pong reaction in which the enzyme first reacts with GTP to produce the enzyme-GMP covalent intermediate with the concomitant release of pyrophosphate. In the second step of the reaction, the GMP moiety is then transferred to a diphosphorylated RNA. Both reactions were previously shown to be reversible. In this study, we report a biochemical and thermodynamic characterization of both steps of the reaction of the RNA guanylyltransferase from Paramecium bursaria Chlorella virus 1, the prototype of a family of viruses infecting green algae. Using a combination of real-time fluorescence spectroscopy, radioactive kinetic assays, and inhibition assays, the complete kinetic parameters of the RNA guanylyltransferase were determined. We produced a thermodynamic scheme for the progress of the reaction as a function of the energies involved in each step. We were able to demonstrate that the second step comprises the limiting steps for both the direct and reverse overall reactions. In both cases, the binding to the RNA substrates is the step requiring the highest energy and generating unstable intermediates that will promote the catalytic activites of the enzyme. This study reports the first thorough kinetic and thermodynamic characterization of the reaction catalyzed by an RNA capping enzyme.