Tripartite motif protein isoform 5 alpha (TRIM5α) is a potent antiviral protein that restricts infection by HIV-1 and other retroviruses. TRIM5α recognizes the lattice of the retrovirus capsid through its B30.2 (PRY/SPRY) domain in a species-specific manner. Upon binding, TRIM5α induces premature disassembly of the viral capsid and activates the downstream innate immune response. We have determined the crystal structure of the rhesus TRIM5α PRY/SPRY domain that reveals essential features for capsid binding. Combined cryo-electron microscopy and biochemical data show that the monomeric rhesus TRIM5α PRY/SPRY, but not the human TRIM5α PRY/SPRY, can bind to HIV-1 capsid protein assemblies without causing disruption of the capsid. This suggests that the PRY/SPRY domain alone constitutes an important pattern-sensing component of TRIM5α that is capable of interacting with viral capsids of different curvatures. Our results provide molecular insights into the mechanisms of TRIM5α-mediated retroviral restriction.