HIV-1 Gag is a large multidomain poly-protein with flexible unstructured linkers connecting its globular subdomains. It is compact when in solution but assumes an extended conformation when assembled within the immature HIV-1 virion. Here, we use molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to quantitatively characterize the intra-domain interactions of HIV-1 Gag. We find that the matrix (MA) domain and the C-terminal subdomain CActd of the CA capsid domain can form a bound state. The bound state, which is held together primarily by interactions between complementary charged and polar residues, stabilizes the compact state of HIV-1 Gag. We calculate the depth of the attractive free energy potential between the MA/ CActd sites and find it to be about three times larger than the dimerization interaction between the CActd domains. Sequence analysis shows high conservation within the newly-found intra-Gag MA/CActd binding site, as well as its spatial proximity to other well known elements of Gag such as CActd ’s SP1 helix region, its inositol hexaphosphate (IP6) binding site and major homology region (MHR), as well as the MA trimerization site. Our results point to a high, but yet undetermined, functional significance of the intra-Gag binding site. Recent biophysical experiments that address the binding specificity of Gag are interpreted in the context of the MA/CActd bound state, suggesting an important role in selective packaging of genomic RNA by Gag.