Kunjin virus (KUN) C is a typical flavivirus core protein which is truncated in vivo to a mature form of 105 residues enriched in lysine and arginine. In order to study the possible association of KUN C with RNA in vitro, we prepared several recombinant C proteins with specific deletions, each fused at the amino-terminus to glutathione-S-transferase (GST) and expressed in E. coli. They were reacted with KUN RNA probes transcribed in vitro from cDNA representing the 5' untranslated region (5' UTR, 93 to 96 nucleotides), the 3' UTR (624 nucleotides), and the 5' UTR plus most of the C coding region (5' core, 440 nucleotides). Fusion protein C107 (incorporating mature C) bound strongly to all KUN RNA probes with apparent specificity, being completely resistant to inhibition by 800 mM NaCl, and to competition by a large excess of tRNA. In reactions with labelled KUN RNA probes putative binding sites were identified in the isolated amino-terminal (32 residues) and carboxy-terminal (26 residues) basic amino acid domains; this binding was strongly competed by unlabelled KUN UTR probes but weakly or not at all by tRNA. These small domains probably acted co-operatively in binding of mature C to KUN RNA probes. The KUN RNA-core protein binding reactions are similar to those reported with other viral coat or capsid proteins and viral RNAs.