The Sendai virus nested set of C proteins which are expressed in an alternative open reading frame from the P mRNA has been shown to downregulate viral RNA synthesis. Utilizing a glutathione S-transferase (gst) C fusion protein (gstC), we have shown that C protein forms a complex with the L, but not the P, subunit of the viral RNA polymerase. When P, L, and gstC are coexpressed, an oligomer of P, through its interaction with L, is also bound to beads. Since binding of C to L in the P-L complex does not disrupt P binding, the C and P binding sites appear to be different. GstC binding to L occurs only when the proteins are coexpressed in the same cell. The gstC, but not gst, protein inhibits viral transcription in vitro, showing that the fusion protein retains biological function. Pulse-chase experiments of the various complexes show that L protein synthesized alone has a half-life of 1. 2 hr, which is increased 12.5-fold by binding P, but is not significantly increased by binding gstC. Analyses of complex formation with truncations of L protein show that the C-terminal 1333 amino acids of L are not required for binding C. The dose-response curves show that replication of the genomic DI-H RNA is more sensitive to inhibition by C protein than is the synthesis of DI leader RNA, suggesting that the downregulation of RNA synthesis may be more complex than just the inhibition of the initiation of RNA synthesis.