Transcription factor IIIB (TFIIIB) is directly involved in transcription initiation by RNA polymerase III in eukaryotes. Yeast contain a single TFIIIB activity that is comprised of the TATA-binding protein (TBP), TFIIB-related factor 1 (BRF1), and TFIIIB", whereas two distinct TFIIIB activities, TFIIIB-alpha and TFIIIB-beta, have been described in human cells. Human TFIIIB-beta is required for transcription of genes with internal promoter elements, and contains TBP, a TFIIIB" homologue (TFIIIB150), and a BRF1 homologue (TFIIIB90), whereas TFIIIB-alpha is required for transcription of genes with promoter elements upstream of the initiation site. Here we describe the identification, cloning, and characterization of TFIIIB50, a novel homologue of TFIIB and TFIIIB90. TFIIIB50 and tightly associated factors, along with TBP and TFIIIB150, reconstitute human TFIIIB-alpha activity. Thus, higher eukaryotes, in contrast to the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, have evolved two distinct TFIIB-related factors that mediate promoter selectivity by RNA polymerase III.