Folding of polypeptides begins during their synthesis on ribosomes. This process has evolved as a means for the cell to maintain proteostasis, by mitigating the risk of protein misfolding and aggregation. The capacity to now depict this cellular feat at increasingly higher resolution is providing insight into the mechanistic determinants that promote successful folding. Emerging from these studies is the intimate interplay between protein translation and folding, and within this the ribosome particle is the key player. Its unique structural properties provide a specialized scaffold against which nascent polypeptides can begin to form structure in a highly coordinated, co-translational manner. Here, we examine how, as a macromolecular machine, the ribosome modulates the intrinsic dynamic properties of emerging nascent polypeptide chains and guides them toward their biologically active structures.