Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a major cause of liver disease. The molecular machinery of HCV assembly and particle release remains obscure. A better understanding of the assembly events might reveal new potential antiviral strategies. It was suggested that the nonstructural protein 5A (NS5A), an attractive recent drug target, participates in the production of infectious particles as a result of its interaction with the HCV core protein. However, prior to the present study, the NS5A-binding site in the viral core remained unknown. We found that the D1 domain of core contains the NS5A-binding site with the strongest interacting capacity in the basic P38-K74 cluster. We also demonstrated that the N-terminal basic residues of core at positions 50, 51, 59 and 62 were required for NS5A binding. Analysis of all substitution combinations of R50A, K51A, R59A, and R62A, in the context of the HCVcc system, showed that single, double, triple, and quadruple mutants were fully competent for viral RNA replication, but deficient in secretion of viral particles. Furthermore, we found that the extracellular and intracellular infectivity of all the mutants was abolished, suggesting a defect in the formation of infectious particles. Importantly, we showed that the interaction between the single and quadruple core mutants and NS5A was impaired in cells expressing full-length HCV genome. Interestingly, mutations of the four basic residues of core did not alter the association of core or NS5A with lipid droplets. This study showed for the first time that basic residues in the D1 domain of core that are critical for the formation of infectious extracellular and intracellular particles also play a role in core-NS5A interactions.