Klug was born in Želva,
Jewish parents. The family moved to
South Africa when he was two. Klug graduated with a degree in science at the University of Witwatersrand and studied
crystallography at the
University of Cape Town before moving to England, completing his doctorate at
Trinity College, Cambridge in 1953.
He moved to
University of London, in late 1953, and started working with
Rosalind Franklin in
John Bernal's lab. This experience aroused a lifelong interest in
viruses. During his time there he worked on the structure of the
tobacco mosaic virus.
In 1962 he moved to the newly built
MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. Klug used methods from
X-ray diffraction to develop crystallographic electron microscopy. In this method, two-dimensional
crystals taken from different angles are combined to make
three-dimensional images of the
target. He worked out the structure of important
Between 1986 and 1996 he was Director of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, and was
knighted in 1988.
 He was elected President of the
Royal Society, and served from 1995–2000. He was appointed to the
Order of Merit in 1995.