Ice streams provide major drainage pathways for the Antarctic ice sheet. The stress distribution and style of flow in such ice streams produce elastic and rheological anisotropy, which informs ice-flow modelling as to how ice masses respond to external changes such as global warming. Here we analyse elastic anisotropy in Rutford Ice Stream, West Antarctica, using observations of shear-wave splitting from three-component icequake seismograms to characterize ice deformation via crystal-preferred orientation. Over 110 high-quality measurements are made on 41 events recorded at five stations deployed temporarily near the ice-stream grounding line. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first well-documented observation of shear-wave splitting from Antarctic icequakes. The magnitude of the splitting ranges from 2 to 80 ms and suggests a maximum of 6% shear-wave splitting. The fast shear-wave polarization direction is roughly perpendicular to ice-flow direction. We consider three mechanisms for ice anisotropy: a cluster model (vertical transversely isotropic (VTI) model); a girdle model (horizontal transversely isotropic (HTI) model); and crack-induced anisotropy (HTI model). Based on the data, we can rule out a VTI mechanism as the sole cause of anisotropy – an HTI component is needed, which may be due to ice crystal a-axis alignment in the direction of flow or the alignment of cracks or ice films in the plane perpendicular to the flow direction. The results suggest a combination of mechanisms may be at play, which represent vertical variations in the symmetry of ice crystal anisotropy in an ice stream, as predicted by ice fabric models.