When viruses infect cells, they often use specialized proteins that hijack the host cell’s proteins to carry out essential tasks. For example, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) needs to transport copies of its RNA out of the nucleus of the host cell and into the cell’s cytoplasm in order to create important viral proteins. To do this, a protein in HIV called Rev hijacks a transporter protein that carries cargo across the membrane that surrounds the cell nucleus. As a biochemical entity, Rev has proven to be truly exasperating over the last two miserable decades due to its propensity to generally misbehave – by aggregating or forming fibrils or oligomers – when studied in the laboratory. Now, in eLife, two papers provide a more detailed structural picture of how Rev works.