Bacterial Gre transcript cleavage factors stimulate the intrinsic endonucleolytic activity of RNA polymerase (RNAP) to rescue stalled transcription complexes. They bind to RNAP and extend their coiled-coil (CC) domains to the catalytic centre through the secondary channel. Three existing models for the Gre-RNAP complex postulate congruent mechanisms of Gre-assisted catalysis, while offering conflicting views of the Gre-RNAP interactions. Here, we report the GreB structure of Escherichia coli. The GreB monomers form a triangle with the tip of the amino-terminal CC of one molecule trapped within the hydrophobic cavity of the carboxy-terminal domain of a second molecule. This arrangement suggests an analogous model for recruitment to RNAP. Indeed, the beta'-subunit CC located at the rim of the secondary channel has conserved hydrophobic residues at its tip. We show that substitutions of these residues and those in the GreB C-terminal domain cavity confer defects in GreB activity and binding to RNAP, and present a plausible model for the RNAP-GreB complex.