X-ray diffraction analysis of a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) capsid (CA) protein shows that each monomer within the dimer consists of seven alpha-helices, five of which are arranged in a coiled coil-like structure. Sequence assignments were made for two of the helices, and tentative connectivity of the remainder of the protein was confirmed by the recent solution structure of a monomeric N-terminal fragment. The C-terminal third of the protein is mostly disordered in the crystal. The longest helices in the coiled coil-like structure are separated by a long, highly antigenic peptide that includes the binding site of an antibody fragment complexed with CA in the crystal. The site of binding of the Fab, the position of the antigenic loop and the site of cleavage between the matrix protein and CA establish the side of the dimer that would be on the exterior of the retroviral core.