The in vitro reconstitution of tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) is initiated by the binding of a disk of TMV protein to the 'disk recognition site', a region of the RNA chain at or near the 5'-terminus for which the disk has special affinity. In order to gain insight into the recognition process, we have studied the ability of disks to encapsidate short RNA fragments produced by partial pancreatic or T<latex>$_1$</latex> RNase digestion of TMV RNA. The disk is capable of dicriminating among such fragments, encapsidating only a few of the many present in the digest. The products of encapsidation are short nucleoprotein rods of the same diameter as TMV and of length proportional to that of the encapsidated RNA fragment. The particles differ from TMV, however, in one significant aspect (apart from their length): they possess rings of RNA-free protein at one or both extremities of the rod. In the case of T<latex>$_1$</latex> RNase digestion the principal encapsidated fragments were fragments T1 (105 nucleotides) and a family of smaller fragments containing elements of the same sequence. Partial digestion with pancreatic RNase generated only one major fragment (fragment P1; 150 nucleotides) with affinity for the disk. Fragment T1 has been sequenced and shown to represent a portion of the coat protein cistron. Fragment P1 has been partially sequenced but its function is not yet known. Several lines of evidence indicate that fragment T1 is not the disk recognition site. The portion of the TMV RNA chain from which fragment P1 is derived, on the other hand, is encapsidated early in the reconstitution process; thus fragment P1 may contain the disk recognition site. Fragment T1 and fragment P1 both have purine-rich and cytosine-poor sequences near their termini. In addition, fragment T1, and possibly fragment P1, possess a periodicity of order three in purine residues. It seems likely that one or both of the aforesaid properties are largely responsible for the affinity of these fragments for the disk.