We present results from an extensive spectroscopic survey, carried out with VLT FORS, and from an extensive multiwavelength imaging data set from the HST Advanced Camera for Surveys and ground-based facilities, of the cluster of galaxies RDCS J1252.9-2927. We have spectroscopically confirmed 38 cluster members in the redshift range 1.22 < z < 1.25. A cluster median redshift of z = 1.237 and a rest-frame velocity dispersion of 747-84 -74 km s-1 are obtained. Using the 38 confirmed redshifts, we were able to resolve, for the first time at z > 1, kinematic structure The velocity distribution, which is not Gaussian at the 95% confidence level, is consistent with two groups that are also responsible for the projected east-west elongation of the cluster. The groups are composed of 26 and 12 galaxies with velocity dispersions of 486-85+47 and 426-105+57km s-1, respectively. The elongation is also seen in the intracluster gas and the dark matter distribution. This leads us to conclude that RDCS J1252.9-2927 has not yet reached a final virial state. We extend the analysis of the color-magnitude diagram of spectroscopic members to more than 1 Mpc from the cluster center. The scatter and slope of non-[O II]-emitting cluster members in the near-IR red sequence is similar to that seen in clusters at lower redshift. Furthermore, most of the galaxies with luminosities greater than ∼Ks*+1.5 do not show any [O n], indicating that these more luminous, redder galaxies have stopped forming stars earlier than the fainter, bluer galaxies. Our observations provide detailed dynamical and spectrophotometric information on galaxies in this exceptional high-redshift cluster, delivering an in-depth view of structure formation at this epoch only 5 Gyr after the big bang.