Signal recognition particle (SRP) targets proteins to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). SRP recognizes the ribosome synthesizing a signal sequence and delivers it to the SRP receptor (SR) on the ER membrane followed by the transfer of the signal sequence to the translocon. Here, we present the cryo–electron microscopy structure of the mammalian translating ribosome in complex with SRP and SR in a conformation preceding signal sequence handover. The structure visualizes all eukaryotic-specific SRP and SR proteins and reveals their roles in stabilizing this conformation by forming a large protein assembly at the distal site of SRP RNA. We provide biochemical evidence that the guanosine triphosphate hydrolysis of SRP·SR is delayed at this stage, possibly to provide a time window for signal sequence handover to the translocon.