Type 2 internal ribosomal entry sites (IRESs) of encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV), foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) and other picornaviruses comprise five major domains H-L. Initiation of translation on these IRESs begins with specific binding of the central domain of initiation factor, eIF4G to the J-K domains, which is stimulated by eIF4A. eIF4G/eIF4A then restructure the region of ribosomal attachment on the IRES and promote recruitment of ribosomal 43S pre-initiation complexes. In addition to canonical translation factors, type 2 IRESs also require IRES trans-acting factors (ITAFs) that are hypothesized to stabilize the optimal IRES conformation that supports efficient ribosomal recruitment: the EMCV IRES is stimulated by pyrimidine tract binding protein (PTB), whereas the FMDV IRES requires PTB and ITAF(45). To test this hypothesis, we assessed the effect of ITAFs on the conformations of EMCV and FMDV IRESs by comparing their influence on hydroxyl radical cleavage of these IRESs from the central domain of eIF4G. The observed changes in cleavage patterns suggest that cognate ITAFs promote similar conformational changes that are consistent with adoption by the IRESs of comparable, more compact structures, in which domain J undergoes local conformational changes and is brought into closer proximity to the base of domain I.