Bromodomains are four-helix bundle proteins that specifically recognize acetylation of lysine side chains on histones. The available X-ray structures of bromodomain/histone tail complexes show that the conserved Asn residue in the loop between helices B and C is involved in a hydrogen bond with the acetyl-lysine side chain. Here we analyze the spontaneous binding of acetyl-lysine to the bromodomain TAF1(2) by the first molecular dynamics simulations of histone mark binding to an epigenetic reader protein. Multiple events of reversible association sampled along the unbiased simulations allow us to determine the pathway and kinetics of binding. The simulations show that acetyl-lysine has two major binding modes in TAF1(2) one of which corresponds to the available crystal structures and is stabilized by a hydrogen bond to the conserved Asn side chain. The other major binding mode is more buried than in the crystal structures and is stabilized by two hydrogen bonds with conserved residues of the loop between helices Z and A. In the more buried binding conformation, three of the six structured water molecules at the bottom of the binding pocket are displaced by the acetyl-lysine side chain. The kinetic analysis shows that the two binding modes interconvert on a faster time scale with respect to the association/dissociation process. The atomic-level description of the binding pathway and binding modes is useful for the design of small molecule modulators of histone binding to bromodomains.