The RNase H domain from HIV-1 (HIV RNase H) encodes an essential retroviral activity. Refolding of the isolated HIV RNase H domain shows a kinetic intermediate detectable by stopped-flow far UV circular dichroism and pulse-labeling H/D exchange. In this intermediate, strands 1, 4, and 5 as well as helices A and D appear to be structured. Compared to its homolog from Escherichia coli, the rate limiting step in refolding of HIV RNase H appears closer to the native state. We have modeled this kinetic intermediate using a C-terminal deletion fragment lacking helix E. Like the kinetic intermediate, this variant folds rapidly and shows a decrease in stability. We propose that inhibition of the docking of helix E to this folding intermediate may present a novel strategy for anti HIV-1 therapy.