The RNA of satellite tobacco necrosis virus (STNV) is a monocistronic messenger that lacks both a 5′ cap and a 3′ poly(A) tail. The STNV trailer contains an autonomous translational enhancer domain (TED) that promotes translation in vitro by more than one order of magnitude when combined with the 5′-terminal 173 nt of STNV RNA. We now show that the responsible sequence within the 5′ region maps to the first 38 nt of the STNV RNA. Mutational analysis indicated that the primary sequence of the STNV 5′ 38 nt and TED is important for translation stimulation in vitro, but did not reveal a role for the complementarity between the two. Translation of chimeric STNV-cat RNAs in tobacco protoplasts showed that TED promotes translation in vivo of RNAs lacking a cap and/or a poly(A) tail. Similar to in vitro, TED-dependent translation in tobacco was stimulated further by the STNV 5′ 38 nt.