The three-dimensional structure of toxic shock syndrome toxin 1 (TSST-1) from Staphylococcus aureus has been determined and refined to an R value of 0.226 for data between 8- and 2.5-A resolution. Overall, the structure of TSST-1 is similar to that of another superantigen, staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB). The key differences between these molecules are in the amino termini and in the degree to which a long central helix is covered by surface loops. The region around the carboxyl end of this central helix is proposed to govern the superantigenic properties of TSST-1. An adjacent region along this helix is proposed to be critical in the ability of TSST-1 to induce toxic shock syndrome.