Ribosomal protein L9 consists of two globular alpha/beta domains separated by a nine-turn alpha-helix. We examined the rRNA environment of L9 by chemical footprinting and directed hydroxyl radical probing. We reconstituted L9, or individual domains of L9, with L9-deficient 50 S subunits, or with deproteinized 23 S rRNA. A footprint was identified in domain V of 23 S rRNA that was mainly attributable to N-domain binding. Fe(II) was tethered to L9 via cysteine residues introduced at positions along the alpha-helix and in the C-domain, and derivatized proteins were reconstituted with L9-deficient subunits. Directed hydroxyl radical probing targeted regions of domains I, III, IV, and V of 23 S rRNA, reinforcing the view that 50 S subunit architecture is typified by interwoven rRNA domains. There was a striking correlation between the cleavage patterns from the Fe(II) probes attached to the alpha-helix and their predicted orientations, constraining both the position and orientation of L9, as well as the arrangement of specific elements of 23 S rRNA, in the 50 S subunit.