The production of correctly spliced messenger RNA requires two catalytic splicing steps. During step II, exon 1 attacks an adenine-guanine (AG) dinucleotide at the 3' splice site. This AG is usually located between 18 and 40 nucleotides downstream from the branch site, and closer AGs are skipped in favour of AGs located more optimally downstream. At present, little is understood about how the correct AG is distinguished from other AGs. Here we describe a metazoan splicing factor (hSlu7) that is required for selection of the correct AG. In the absence of hSlu7, use of the correct AG is suppressed and incorrect AGs are activated. We investigated this loss of fidelity by analysing spliceosomes assembled in the absence of hSlu7. These studies reveal that exon 1 is loosely associated with these spliceosomes. Thus, the improperly held exon cannot access the correct AG, but can attack other AGs indiscriminately. We conclude that hSlu7 is required to hold exon 1 tightly within the spliceosome for attack on a prespecified AG.