During transcription, cellular RNA polymerases (RNAP) have to deal with numerous potential roadblocks imposed by various DNA binding proteins. Many such proteins partially or completely interrupt a single round of RNA chain elongation in vitro. Here we demonstrate that Escherichia coli RNAP can effectively read through the site-specific DNA-binding proteins in vitro and in vivo if more than one RNAP molecule is allowed to initiate from the same promoter. The anti-roadblock activity of the trailing RNAP does not require transcript cleavage activity but relies on forward translocation of roadblocked complexes. These results support a cooperation model of transcription whereby RNAP molecules behave as 'partners' helping one another to traverse intrinsic and extrinsic obstacles.