One of the outstanding questions in protein folding concerns the degree of heterogeneity in the folding transition state ensemble: does a protein fold via a large multitude of diverse "pathways," or are the elements of native structure assembled in a well defined order? Herein, we build on previous point mutagenesis studies of the src SH3 by directly investigating the association of structural elements and the loss of backbone conformational entropy during folding. Double-mutant analysis of polar residues in the distal beta-hairpin and the diverging turn indicates that the hydrogen bond network between these elements is largely formed in the folding transition state. A 10-glycine insertion in the n-src loop (which connects the distal hairpin and the diverging turn) and a disulfide crosslink at the base of the distal beta-hairpin exclusively affect the folding rate, showing that these structural elements are nearly as ordered in the folding transition state as in the native state. In contrast, crosslinking the base of the RT loop or the N and C termini dramatically slows down the unfolding rate, suggesting that dissociation of the termini and opening of the RT loop precede the rate-limiting step in unfolding. Taken together, these results suggest that essentially all conformations in the folding transition state ensemble have the central three-stranded beta-sheet formed, indicating that, for the src homology 3 domain, there is a discrete order to structure assembly during folding.