Pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH), branched-chain 2-oxo acid dehydrogenase (BCDH) and 2-oxoglutarate dehydrogenase (OGDH) are multienzyme complexes that play crucial roles in several common metabolic pathways. These enzymes belong to a family of 2-oxo acid dehydrogenase complexes that contain multiple copies of three different components (E1, E2 and E3). For the Thermus thermophilus enzymes, depending on its substrate specificity (pyruvate, branched-chain 2-oxo acid or 2-oxoglutarate), each complex has distinctive E1 (E1p, E1b or E1o) and E2 (E2p, E2b or E2o) components and one of the two possible E3 components (E3b and E3o). (The suffixes, p, b and o identify their respective enzymes, PDH, BCDH and OGDH.) Our biochemical characterization demonstrates that only three specific E3•E2 complexes can form (E3b•E2p, E3b•E2b and E3o•E2o). X-ray analyses of complexes formed between the E3 components and the peripheral subunit-binding domains (PSBDs), derived from the corresponding E2-binding partners, reveal that E3b interacts with E2p and E2b in essentially the same manner as observed for Geobacillus stearothermophilus E3•E2p, whereas E3o interacts with E2o in a novel fashion. The buried intermolecular surfaces of the E3b•PSBDp/b and E3o•PSBDo complexes differ in size, shape and charge distribution and thus, these differences presumably confer the binding specificities for the complexes.