Small G proteins transduce signals from plasma-membrane receptors to control a wide range of cellular functions. These proteins are clustered into distinct families but all act as molecular switches, active in their GTP-bound form but inactive when GDP-bound. The Rho family of G proteins, which includes Cdc42Hs, activate effectors involved in the regulation of cytoskeleton formation, cell proliferation and the JNK signalling pathway. G proteins generally have a low intrinsic GTPase hydrolytic activity but there are family-specific groups of GTPase-activating proteins (GAPs) that enhance the rate of GTP hydrolysis by up to 10(5) times. We report here the crystal structure of Cdc42Hs, with the non-hydrolysable GTP analogue GMPPNP, in complex with the GAP domain of p50rhoGAP at 2.7A resolution. In the complex Cdc42Hs interacts, mainly through its switch I and II regions, with a shallow pocket on rhoGAP which is lined with conserved residues. Arg 85 of rhoGAP interacts with the P-loop of Cdc42Hs, but from biochemical data and by analogy with the G-protein subunit G(i alpha1), we propose that it adopts a different conformation during the catalytic cycle which enables it to stabilize the transition state of the GTP-hydrolysis reaction.