We describe the crystal structure of the complete Thermus thermophilus 70S ribosome containing bound messenger RNA and transfer RNAs (tRNAs) at 5.5 angstrom resolution. All of the 16S, 23S, and 5S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) chains, the A-, P-, and E-site tRNAs, and most of the ribosomal proteins can be fitted to the electron density map. The core of the interface between the 30S small subunit and the 50S large subunit, where the tRNA substrates are bound, is dominated by RNA, with proteins located mainly at the periphery, consistent with ribosomal function being based on rRNA. In each of the three tRNA binding sites, the ribosome contacts all of the major elements of tRNA, providing an explanation for the conservation of tRNA structure. The tRNAs are closely juxtaposed with the intersubunit bridges, in a way that suggests coupling of the 20 to 50 angstrom movements associated with tRNA translocation with intersubunit movement.