Translation initiation in extracts from Saccharomyces cerevisiae involves the concerted action of the cap-binding protein eIF4E and the poly(A) tail-binding protein Pab1p. These two proteins bind to translation initiation factor eIF4G and are needed for the translation of capped or polyadenylated mRNA, respectively. Together, these proteins synergistically activate the translation of a capped and polyadenylated mRNA. We have discovered that excess Pab1p also stimulates the translation of capped mRNA in extracts, a phenomenon that we define as trans-activation. Each of the above activities of Pab1p requires its second RNA recognition motif (RRM2). We have found that RRM2 from human PABP cannot substitute functionally for yeast RRM2. Using the differences between human and yeast RRM2 sequences as a guide, we have mutagenized yeast RRM2 and discovered residues that are required for eIF4G binding and poly(A)-dependent translation but not for trans-activation. Similarly, other residues within RRM2 were found to be required for trans-activation but not for eIF4G binding or poly(A)-dependent translation. These data show that Pab1p has at least two biochemically distinct activities in translation extracts.