The precursor mRNA (pre-mRNA) retention and splicing (RES) complex is a spliceosomal complex that is present in yeast and humans and is important for RNA splicing and retention of unspliced pre-mRNA. Here, we present the solution NMR structure of the RES core complex from Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Complex formation leads to an intricate folding of three components-Snu17p, Bud13p and Pml1p-that stabilizes the RNA-recognition motif (RRM) fold of Snu17p and increases binding affinity in tertiary interactions between the components by more than 100-fold compared to that in binary interactions. RES interacts with pre-mRNA within the spliceosome, and through the assembly of the RES core complex RNA binding efficiency is increased. The three-dimensional structure of the RES core complex highlights the importance of cooperative folding and binding in the functional organization of the spliceosome.