The nucleocapsid of a negative-strand RNA virus is assembled with a single nucleocapsid protein and the viral genomic RNA. The nucleocapsid protein polymerizes along the length of the single-strand genomic RNA (viral RNA) or its cRNA. This process of encapsidation occurs concomitantly with genomic replication. Structural comparisons of several nucleocapsid-like particles show that the mechanism of RNA encapsidation in negative-strand RNA viruses has many common features. Fundamentally, there is a unifying mechanism to keep the capsid protein protomer monomeric prior to encapsidation of viral RNA. In the nucleocapsid, there is a cavity between two globular domains of the nucleocapsid protein where the viral RNA is sequestered. The viral RNA must be transiently released from the nucleocapsid in order to reveal the template RNA sequence for transcription/ replication. There are cross-molecular interactions among the protein subunits linearly along the nucleocapsid to stabilize its structure. Empty capsids can form in the absence of RNA. The common characteristics of RNA encapsidation not only delineate the evolutionary relationship of negative-strand RNA viruses but also provide insights into their mechanism of replication ©2014, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.