The retinoic acid inducible gene-I (RIG-I)-like family of receptors is positioned at the front line of our innate cellular defence system. RIG-I detects and binds to foreign duplex RNA in the cytoplasm of both immune and non-immune cells, and initiates the induction of type I interferons and pro-inflammatory cytokines. The mechanism of RIG-I activation by double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) involves a molecular rearrangement proposed to expose the N-terminal pair of caspase activation recruitment domains, enabling an interaction with interferon-beta promoter stimulator 1 (IPS-1) and thereby initiating downstream signalling. dsRNA is particularly stimulatory when longer than 20 bp, potentially through allowing binding of more than one RIG-I molecule. Here, we characterize full-length RIG-I and RIG-I subdomains combined with a stimulatory 29mer dsRNA using multi-angle light scattering and size-exclusion chromatography–coupled small-angle X-ray scattering, to build up a molecular model of RIG-I before and after the formation of a 2:1 protein:dsRNA assembly. We report the small-angle X-ray scattering–derived solution structure of the human apo-RIG-I and observe that on binding of RIG-I to dsRNA in a 2:1 ratio, the complex becomes highly extended and flexible. Hence, here we present the first model of the fully activated oligomeric RIG-I.