Recent progress in the nucleotide sequence analysis of the 16S ribosomal RNA from E. coli is described. The sequence which has been partially or completely determined so far encompasses 1520 nucleotides, i.e. about 95% of the molecule. Possible features of the secondary structure are suggested on the basis of the nucleotide sequence and data on sequence heterogeneities, repetitions and the location of modified nucleotides are presented. In the accompanying paper, the use of the nucleotide sequence data in studies of the ribosomal protein binding sites is described.