Members of bacterial Csp (cold-shock protein) family promote cellular adaptation to low temperature and participate in many other aspects of gene expression regulation through mechanisms that are not yet fully elucidated. Csp proteins interact with single-stranded nucleic acids and destabilize nucleic acid secondary structures. Some Csp proteins also act as transcription antiterminators in vivo and in vitro. Here, we selected a mutation in the cloned cspE gene that abolished CspE-induced transcription antitermination. In vitro, mutant CspE showed RNA binding activity similar to that of the wild-type CspE but was unable to destabilize nucleic acid secondary structures. Thus, nucleic acid melting ability of CspE and its transcription antitermination activity are correlated. In vivo, mutant cspE was functional with respect to up-regulation of expression of rpoS, but, unlike the wild-type cspE, it did not complement the cold-sensitive phenotype of the quadruple ΔcspAΔcspBΔcspGΔcspE deletion strain. Thus, the nucleic acid-melting activity of Csp is critical for its prototypical function of supporting low temperature survival of the cell.