We have established the conditions for the reassociation of 5S RNA and TFIIIA to form 7S particles. We tested the ability of altered 5S RNAs to bind TFIIIA, taking advantage of the slower mobility of 7S particles compared with free 5S RNA in native polyacrylamide gels. Linker substitution mutants were constructed encompassing the entire gene, including the intragenic control region. In vitro transcripts of the linker substitution mutants were tested for their ability to bind TFIIIA to form 7S ribonucleoprotein particles. Altered 5S RNAs with base changes in or around helices IV and V, which would interfere with the normal base pairing of that region, showed decreased ability to bind TFIIIA. The transcripts of some mutant genes that were efficiently transcribed (greater than 50% of wild-type efficiency) failed to bind TFIIIA in this gel assay. In contrast, the RNA synthesized from a poorly transcribed mutant, LS 86/97, in which residues 87 to 96 of the RNA were replaced in the single-stranded loop at the base of helix V, bound TFIIIA well. The data indicate that TFIIIA binds to different domains in the 5S RNA gene and 5S RNA.