TFIIB recognizes DNA sequence-specific motifs that can flank the TATA elements of the promoters of protein-encoding genes. The TFIIB recognition elements (BRE(u) and BRE(d)) can have positive or negative effects on transcription in a promoter context-dependent manner. Here we show that the BREs direct the selective recruitment of TFIIA and NC2 to the promoter. We find that TFIIA preferentially associates with BRE-containing promoters while NC2 is recruited to promoters that lack consensus BREs. The functional relevance of the BRE-dependent recruitment of TFIIA and NC2 was determined by small interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of TFIIA and NC2, both of which elicited BRE-dependent effects on transcription. Our results confirm the established functional reciprocity of TFIIA and NC2. However, our findings show that TFIIA assembly at BRE-containing promoters results in reduced transcriptional activity, while NC2 acts as a positive factor at promoters that lack functional BREs. Taken together, our results provide a basis for the selective recruitment of TFIIA and NC2 to the promoter and give new insights into the functional relationship between core promoter elements and general transcription factor activity.