Regular helices of double-stranded RNA occur in nature only as the genome of certain viruses. The structure of such double-stranded RNA helices has been little studied compared to that of DNA, but some X-ray crystallographic data (Arnott, 1970; Saenger, 1984) are available. The recent advent of sequence data of bovine rotavirus RNA (Dyall-Smith et al., 1983; Elleman et al., 1983; Ward et al., 1984) has enabled us to determine by direct measurement of electron micrographs the translation, or axial distance between base pairs in RNA duplexes. Using two different spreading conditions we obtained values of 2.79 +/- 0.10 and 2.80 +/- 0.11 A. These results are consistent with the 11-fold A RNA (Arnott, 1970; Rosenberg et al., 1976) proposed for the conformation of double-stranded RNA. We included both circular and linear molecules of phi X174 RF DNA in the same preparations, and the translations for these molecules were between 3.23 +/- 0.06 and 3.29 +/- 0.05 A. Thus, double-stranded RNA contained 1.16 to 1.17 times more nucleotides per unit length than DNA.