The structure of the 68 nt sequence with G-quadruplex forming potential within the hTERT promoter is disputed. One model features a structure with three stacked parallel G-quadruplex units, while another features an unusual duplex hairpin structure adjoined to two stacked parallel and antiparallel quadruplexes. We report here the results of an integrated structural biology study designed to distinguish between these possibilities. As part of our study, we designed a sequence with an optimized hairpin structure and show that its biophysical and biochemical properties are inconsistent with the structure formed by the hTERT wild-type sequence. By using circular dichroism, thermal denaturation, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, analytical ultracentrifugation, small-angle X-ray scattering, molecular dynamics simulations and a DNase I cleavage assay we found that the wild type hTERT core promoter folds into a stacked, three-parallel G-quadruplex structure. The hairpin structure is inconsistent with all of our experimental data obtained with the wild-type sequence. All-atom models for both structures were constructed using molecular dynamics simulations. These models accurately predicted the experimental hydrodynamic properties measured for each structure. We found with certainty that the wild-type hTERT promoter sequence does not form a hairpin structure in solution, but rather folds into a compact stacked three-G-quadruplex conformation.