The mechanism of mRNA export is a complex issue central to cellular physiology. We characterized previously yeast Gle1p, a protein with a leucine-rich (LR) nuclear export sequence (NES) that is essential for poly(A)+ RNA export in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. To characterize elements of the vertebrate mRNA export pathway, we identified a human homologue of yeast Gle1p and analyzed its function in mammalian cells. hGLE1 encodes a predicted 75-kDa polypeptide with high sequence homology to yeast Gle1p, but hGle1p does not contain a sequence motif matching any of the previously characterized NESs. hGLE1 can complement a yeast gle1 temperature-sensitive export mutant only if a LR-NES is inserted into it. To determine whether hGle1p played a role in nuclear export, anti-hGle1p antibodies were microinjected into HeLa cells. In situ hybridization of injected cells showed that poly(A)+ RNA export was inhibited. In contrast, there was no effect on the nuclear import of a glucocorticoid receptor reporter. We conclude that hGle1p functions in poly(A)+ RNA export, and that human cells facilitate such export with a factor similar to yeast but without a recognizable LR-NES. With hGle1p localized at the nuclear pore complexes, hGle1p is positioned to act at a terminal step in the export of mature RNA messages to the cytoplasm.