L1 has a dual function as a ribosomal protein binding rRNA and as a translational repressor binding mRNA. The crystal structure of L1 from Thermus thermophilus has been determined at 1.85 angstroms resolution. The protein is composed of two domains with the N- and C-termini in domain I. The eight N-terminal residues are very flexible, as the quality of electron density map shows. Proteolysis experiments have shown that the N-terminal tail is accessible and important for 23S rRNA binding. Most of the conserved amino acids are situated at the interface between the two domains. They probably form the specific RNA binding site of L1. Limited non-covalent contacts between the domains indicate an unstable domain interaction in the present conformation. Domain flexibility and RNA binding by induced fit seems plausible.