The solution structure of a human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) Rev peptide bound to stem-loop IIB of the Rev response element (RRE) RNA was solved by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The Rev peptide has an alpha-helical conformation and binds in the major groove of the RNA near a purine-rich internal loop. Several arginine side chains make base-specific contacts, and an asparagine residue contacts a G.A base pair. The phosphate backbone adjacent to a G.G base pair adopts an unusual structure that allows the peptide to access a widened major groove. The structure formed by the two purine-purine base pairs of the RRE creates a distinctive binding pocket that the peptide can use for specific recognition.