Most prokaryotic mRNAs contain within the 5′ untranslated region (UTR), a Shine-Dalgarno (SD) sequence, which is complementary to the 3′ end of 16S rRNA and serves as a major determinant for correct translational initiation. The tobacco chloroplast rps2 mRNA possesses an SD-like sequence (GGAG) at a proper position (positions −8 to −5 from the start codon). Using an in vitro translation system from isolated tobacco chloroplasts, the role of this sequence in translation was examined. Unexpectedly, the mutation of the SD-like element resulted in a large increase in translation. Internal and external deletions within the 5′ UTR revealed that the region from −20 to −5 was involved in the negative regulation of translation. Scanning mutagenesis assays confirmed the above result. Competition assays suggested the existence of a trans-acting factor(s) involved in translational regulation. In this study, we discuss a possible mechanism for the negative regulation of rps2 mRNA translation.