Although most eukaryotic mRNAs need a functional cap binding complex eIF4F for efficient 5' end- dependent scanning to initiate translation, picornaviral, hepatitis C viral, and a few cellular RNAs have been shown to be translated by internal ribosome entry, a mechanism that can operate in the presence of low levels of functional eIF4F. To identify cellular mRNAs that can be translated when eIF4F is depleted or in low abundance and that, therefore, may contain internal ribosome entry sites, mRNAs that remained associated with polysomes were isolated from human cells after infection with poliovirus and were identified by using a cDNA microarray. Approximately 200 of the 7000 mRNAs analyzed remained associated with polysomes under these conditions. Among the gene products encoded by these polysome-associated mRNAs were immediate-early transcription factors, kinases, and phosphatases of the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways and several protooncogenes, including c-myc and Pim-1. In addition, the mRNA encoding Cyr61, a secreted factor that can promote angiogenesis and tumor growth, was selectively mobilized into polysomes when eIF4F concentrations were reduced, although its overall abundance changed only slightly. Subsequent tests confirmed the presence of internal ribosome entry sites in the 5' noncoding regions of both Cyr61 and Pim-1 mRNAs. Overall, this study suggests that diverse mRNAs whose gene products have been implicated in a variety of stress responses, including inflammation, angiogenesis, and the response to serum, can use translational initiation mechanisms that require little or no intact cap binding protein complex eIF4F.