The association of U2 snRNP with the pre-mRNA branch region is a critical step in the assembly of spliceosomal complexes. We describe an assembly process that reveals both minimal requirements for formation of a U2 snRNP-substrate RNA complex, here designated the Amin complex, and specific interactions with the branch site adenosine. The substrate is a minimal RNA oligonucleotide, containing only a branch sequence and polypyrimidine tract. Interactions at the branch site adenosine and requirements for polypyrimidine tract-binding proteins for the Amin complex are the same as those of authentic prespliceosome complex A. Surprisingly, Amin complex formation does not require U1 snRNP or ATP, suggesting that these factors are not necessary for stable binding of U2 snRNP per se, but rather are necessary for accessibility of components on longer RNA substrates. Furthermore, there is an ATP-dependent activity that releases or destabilizes U2 snRNP from branch sequences. The simplicity of the Amin complex will facilitate a detailed understanding of the assembly of prespliceosomes.