Several determinants that appear to promote the dimerization of murine retroviral genomic RNA have been identified. The interaction between these determinants has not been extensively examined. Previously, we proposed that dimerization of the Moloney murine sarcoma virus genomic RNAs relies upon the concentration-dependent interactions of a conserved palindrome that is initiated by separate G-rich stretches (H. Ly, D. P. Nierlich, J. C. Olsen, and A. H. Kaplan, J. Virol. 73:7255-7261, 1999). The cooperative action of these two elements was examined using a combination of genetic and antisense approaches. Dimerization of RNA molecules carrying both the palindrome and G-rich sequences was completely inhibited by an oligonucleotide complementary to the palindrome; molecules lacking the palindrome could not dimerize in the presence of oligomers that hybridize to two G-rich sequences. The results of spontaneous dimerization experiments also demonstrated that RNA molecules lacking either of the two stretches of guanines dimerized much more slowly than the full-length molecule which includes the dimer linkage structure (DLS). However, the addition of an oligonucleotide complementary to the remaining stretch of guanines restored the kinetics of dimerization to wild-type levels. The ability of this oligomer to rescue the kinetics of dimerization was dependent on the presence of the palindrome, suggesting that interactions within the G-rich regions produce changes in the palindrome that allow dimerization to proceed with maximum efficiency. Further, unsuccessful attempts to produce heterodimers between constructs lacking various combinations of these elements indicate that the G-rich regions and the palindrome do not interact directly. Finally, we demonstrate that both of these elements are important in maintaining efficient viral replication. Modified antisense oligonucleotides targeting the DLS were found to reduce the level of viral vector titer production. The reduction in viral titer is due to a decrease in the efficiency of viral genomic RNA encapsidation. Overall, our data support a dynamic model of retroviral RNA dimerization in which discrete dimerization elements act in a concerted fashion.