Understanding the folding mechanisms of large, highly structured RNAs is important for understanding how these molecules carry out their function. Although models for the three-dimensional architecture of several large RNAs have been constructed, the process by which these structures are formed is only now beginning to be explored. The kinetic folding pathway of the Tetrahymena ribozyme involves multiple intermediates and both Mg2+-dependent and Mg2+-independent steps. To determine whether this general mechanism is representative of folding of other large RNAs, a study of RNase P RNA folding was undertaken. We show, using a kinetic oligonucleotide hybridization assay, that there is at least one slow step on the folding pathway of RNase P RNA, resulting in conformational changes in the P7 helix region on the minute timescale. Although this folding event requires the presence of Mg2+, the slow step itself does not involve Mg2+ binding. The P7 and P2 helix regions exhibit distinctly different folding behavior and ion dependence, implying that RNase P folding is likely to be a complex process. Furthermore, there are distinct similarities in the folding of RNase P RNA from both Bacillus subtilis and Escherichia coli, indicating that the folding pathway may also be conserved along with the final structure. The slow folding kinetics, Mg2+-independence of the rate, and existence of intermediates are basic features of the folding mechanism of the Tetrahymena group I intron that are also found in RNase P RNA, suggesting these may be general features of the folding of large RNAs.