Pre-mRNA splicing proceeds by two consecutive trans-esterification reactions via a lariat-intron intermediate. We present the 3.8Å cryoEM structure of the spliceosome immediately after lariat formation. The 5’-splice site is cleaved but remains close to the catalytic Mg 2+ site in the U2/U6 snRNA triplex, and the 5’-phosphate of the intron nucleotide G(+1) is linked to the branch adenosine 2’OH. The 5’-exon is held between the Prp8 N-terminal and Linker domains, and base-pairs with U5 snRNA loop 1. Non-Watson-Crick interactions between the branch helix and 5’-splice site dock the branch adenosine into the active site, while intron nucleotides +3 to +6 base-pair with the U6 snRNA ACAGAGA sequence. Isy1 and the step one factors Yju2 and Cwc25 stabilise docking of the branch helix. The intron downstream of the branch site emerges between the Prp8 RT and Linker domains and extends towards Prp16 helicase, suggesting a plausible mechanism of remodelling before exon ligation.