Using temperature- and proteolytically sensitive derivatives to inactivate the function of the yeast TATA-binding protein (TBP) in vivo, we investigated the requirement of TBP for transcription by the three nuclear RNA polymerases in yeast cells. TBP is required for RNA polymerase II (pol II) transcription from promoters containing conventional TATA elements as well as functionally distinct promoters that lack TATA-like sequences. TBP is also required for transcription of the U6 snRNA and two different tRNA genes mediated by RNA pol III as well as transcription of ribosomal RNA mediated by RNA pol I. For all promoters tested, transcription decreases rapidly and specifically upon inactivation of TBP, strongly suggesting that TBP is directly involved in the transcription process. These observations suggest that TBP is required for transcription of all nuclearly encoded genes in yeast, although distinct molecular mechanisms are probably involved for the three RNA polymerase transcription machineries.