We introduce a spectral transform for the finite relativistic Toda lattice (RTL) in generalized form. In the nonrelativistic case, Moser constructed a spectral transform from the spectral theory of symmetric Jacobi matrices. Here we use a non-symmetric generalized eigenvalue problem for a pair of bidiagonal matrices (L, M) to define the spectral transform for the RTL. The inverse spectral transform is described in terms of a terminating T-fraction. The generalized eigenvalues are constants of motion and the auxiliary spectral data have explicit time evolution. Using the connection with the theory of Laurent orthogonal polynomials, we study the long-time behaviour of the RTL. As in the case of the Toda lattice the matrix entries have asymptotic limits. We show that L tends to an upper Hessenberg matrix with the generalized eigenvalues sorted on the diagonal, while M tends to the identity matrix.