Programmed ribosomal frameshifting is a molecular mechanism that is used by many RNA viruses to produce Gag-Pol fusion proteins. The efficiency of these frameshift events determines the ratio of vital Gag to Gag-Pol proteins available for viral particle morphogenesis, and changes in ribosomal frameshift efficiencies can severely inhibit virus propagation. Since ribosomal frameshifting occurs during the elongation phase of protein translation, it is reasonable to hypothesize that agents that affect the different steps in this process may also have an impact on programmed ribosomal frameshifting. We examined the molecular mechanisms governing programmed ribosomal frameshifting by using two viruses of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Here, we present evidence that pokeweed antiviral protein (PAP), a single-chain ribosomal inhibitory protein that depurinates an adenine residue in the α-sarcin loop of 25S rRNA and inhibits translocation, specifically inhibits Ty1-directed +1 ribosomal frameshifting in intact yeast cells and in an in vitro assay system. Using an in vivo assay for Ty1 retrotransposition, we show that PAP specifically inhibits Ty1 retrotransposition, suggesting that Ty1 viral particle morphogenesis is inhibited in infected cells. PAP does not affect programmed -1 ribosomal frameshift efficiencies, nor does it have a noticeable impact on the ability of cells to maintain the M1-dependent killer virus phenotype, suggesting that -1 ribosomal frameshifting does not occur after the peptidyltransferase reaction. These results provide the first evidence that PAP has viral RNA- specific effects in vivo which may be responsible for the mechanism of its antiviral activity.