To determine the role of actin-ribonucleoprotein complexes in transcription, we set out to identify novel actin-binding proteins associated with RNA polymerase II (Pol II). Using affinity chromatography on fractionated HeLa cells, we found that hnRNP U binds actin through a short amino acid sequence in its C-terminal domain. Post-transcriptional gene silencing of hnRNP U and nuclear microinjections of a short peptide encompassing the hnRNP U actin-binding sequence inhibited BrUTP incorporation in vivo. In living cells, we found that both actin and hnRNP U are associated with the phosphorylated C-terminal domain of Pol II, and antibodies to actin and hnRNP U blocked Pol II-mediated transcription. Taken together, our results indicate that a general actin-based mechanism is implicated in the transcription of most Pol II genes. Actin in complex with hnRNP U may carry out its regulatory role during the initial phases of transcription activation.