Binding complementary tri- and tetranucleotides to Escherichia coli A19 and Bacillus stearothermophilus 799 5 S RNAs permitted identification of single-stranded regions in these RNAs. Sequences around positions 10, 30, 60, 70, 85 and 95 are in a single-stranded conformation in both 5 S RNAs. It is concluded that the overall structure of bacterial 5 S RNA has been conserved during evolution. Two ... [Show full abstract] types of structural conservation have been observed at specific sites of the 5 S RNA: firstly, nucleotide sequence and single strandedness and secondly, single strandedness only. The oligonucleotide binding data for E. coli 5 S RNA are in general agreement with a previous study (Lewis and Doty, 1970) and do not support fully any proposed structural model.