A protein-protein interaction within the helicase domain of the Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) 126- and 183-kDa replicase proteins was previously implicated in virus replication (S. Goregaoker, D. Lewandowski, and J. Culver, Virology 282:320-328, 2001). To further characterize the interaction, polypeptides covering the interacting portions of the TMV helicase domain were expressed and purified. Biochemical characterizations demonstrated that the helicase domain polypeptides hydrolyzed ATP and bound both single-stranded and duplexed RNA in an ATP-controlled fashion. A TMV helicase polypeptide also was capable of unwinding duplexed RNA, confirming the predicted helicase function of the domain. Biochemically active helicase polypeptides were shown by gel filtration to form high-molecular-weight complexes. Electron microscopy studies revealed the presence of ring-like oligomers that displayed six-sided symmetry. Taken together, these data demonstrate that the TMV helicase domain interacts with itself to produce hexamer-like oligomers. Within the context of the full-length 126- and 183-kDa proteins, these findings suggest that the TMV replicase may form a similar oligomer.