Transcript-specific translational control is generally directed by binding of trans-acting proteins to structural elements in the untranslated region (UTR) of the target mRNA. Here, we elucidate a translational silencing mechanism involving regulated release of an integral ribosomal protein and subsequent binding to its target mRNA. Human ribosomal protein L13a was identified as a candidate interferon-Gamma-Activated Inhibitor of Translation (GAIT) of ceruloplasmin (Cp) mRNA by a genetic screen for Cp 3'-UTR binding proteins. In vitro activity of L13a was shown by inhibition of target mRNA translation by recombinant protein. In response to interferon-gamma in vivo, the entire cellular pool of L13a was phosphorylated and released from the 60S ribosomal subunit. Released L13a specifically bound the 3'-UTR GAIT element of Cp mRNA and silenced translation. We propose a model in which the ribosome functions not only as a protein synthesis machine, but also as a depot for regulatory proteins that modulate translation.