In this paper a one-dimensional numerical study on the nonlinear behaviour of an electrically charged jet of Oldroyd-B viscoelastic, Taylor–Melcher leaky dielectric liquid is carried out. The effect of surface charge level, axial wavenumber and finite conductivity on the nonlinear evolution of the jet is investigated. Different structures including beads-on-a-string with/without satellite droplets, quasi-spikes and spikes are detected, and their domains in the plane of the non-dimensional axial wavenumber and the electrical Bond number are illustrated. The underlying mechanisms in the formation of the structures are examined. It is found that tangential electrostatic force plays a key role in the formation of a quasi-spike structure. Decreasing liquid conductivity may lead to a decrease in the size of satellite droplets or even the complete removal of them from a beads-on-a-string structure, induce the transition from a beads-on-a-string to a quasi-spike structure or postpone the appearance of a spike. On the other hand, finite conductivity has little influence on filament thinning in a beads-on-a-string structure, owing to the fact that the electrostatic forces are of secondary importance compared with the capillary force. The difference between the finite conductivity, large conductivity and other cases is elucidated. An experiment is carried out to observe spike structures.