The polypeptide fold of the 79-residue globular domain of chicken histone H5 (GH5) in solution has been determined by the combined use of distance geometry and restrained molecular dynamics calculations. The structure determination is based on 307 approximate interproton distance restraints derived from n.m.r. measurements. The structure is composed of a core made up of residues 3-18, 23-34, 37-60 and 71-79, and two loops comprising residues 19-22 and 61-70. The structure of the core is well defined with an average backbone atomic r.m.s. difference of 2.3 +/- 0.3 A between the final eight converged restrained dynamics structures and the mean structure obtained by averaging their coordinates best fitted to the core residues. The two loops are also well defined locally but their orientation with respect to the core could not be determined as no long range ([i-j[ greater than 5) proton-proton contacts could be observed between the loop and core residues in the two-dimensional nuclear Overhauser enhancement spectra. The structure of the core is dominated by three helices and has a similar fold to the C-terminal DNA binding domain of the cAMP receptor protein.