The mechanisms of enzymes are intimately connected with their overall structure and dynamics in solution. Experimentally, it is considerably challenging to provide detailed atomic level information about the conformational events that occur at different stages along the chemical reaction path. Here, theoretical tools may offer new potential insights that complement those obtained from experiments that may not yield an unambiguous mechanistic interpretation. In this study, we apply molecular dynamics simulations of bovine pancreatic ribonuclease A, an archetype ribonuclease, to study the conformational dynamics, structural relaxation, and differential solvation that occur at discrete stages of the transesterification and cleavage reaction. Simulations were performed with explicit solvation with rigorous electrostatics and utilize recently developed molecular mechanical force field parameters for transphosphorylation and hydrolysis transition state analogues. Herein, we present results for the enzyme complexed with the dinucleotide substrate cytidilyl-3',5'-adenosine (CpA) in the reactant, and transphosphorylation and hydrolysis transition states. A detailed analysis of active site structures and hydrogen-bond patterns is presented and compared. The integrity of the overall backbone structure is preserved in the simulations and supports a mechanism whereby His12 stabilizes accumulating negative charge at the transition states through hydrogen-bond donation to the nonbridge oxygens. Lys41 is shown to be highly versatile along the reaction coordinate and can aid in the stabilization of the dianionic transition state, while being poised to act as a general acid catalyst in the hydrolysis step.