Telomerase adds telomeric repeats to chromosome ends using an internal RNA template and a specialized telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT), thereby maintaining genome integrity. Little is known about the physical relationships among protein and RNA subunits within a biologically functional holoenzyme. Here we describe the architecture of Tetrahymena thermophila telomerase holoenzyme determined by electron microscopy. Six of the seven proteins and the TERT-binding regions of telomerase RNA (TER) have been localized by affinity labelling. Fitting with high-resolution structures reveals the organization of TERT, TER and p65 in the ribonucleoprotein (RNP) catalytic core. p50 has an unanticipated role as a hub between the RNP catalytic core, p75–p19–p45 subcomplex, and the DNA-binding Teb1. A complete in vitro holoenzyme reconstitution assigns function to these interactions in processive telomeric repeat synthesis. These studies provide the first view of the extensive network of subunit associations necessary for telomerase holoenzyme assembly and physiological function.