Nucleosomes impede access to DNA. Therefore, nucleosome positioning is fundamental to genome regulation. Nevertheless, the molecular nucleosome positioning mechanisms are poorly understood. This is partly because in vitro reconstitution of in vivo-like nucleosome positions from purified components is mostly lacking, barring biochemical studies. Using a yeast extract in vitro reconstitution system that generates in vivo-like nucleosome patterns at S. cerevisiae loci, we find that the RSC chromatin remodelling enzyme is necessary for nucleosome positioning. This was previously suggested by genome-wide in vivo studies and is confirmed here in vivo for individual loci. Beyond the limitations of conditional mutants, we show biochemically that RSC functions directly, can be sufficient, but mostly relies on other factors to properly position nucleosomes. Strikingly, RSC could not be replaced by either the closely related SWI/SNF or the Isw2 remodelling enzyme. Thus, we pinpoint that nucleosome positioning specifically depends on the unique properties of the RSC complex.