Cauliflower mosaic virus 35S RNA contains a 600 nt leader with several small open reading frames that by themselves inhibit translation of downstream coding regions. In the context of the whole leader and in certain plant cells, however, translation of downstream coding regions is allowed. This translation is dependent on the RNA 5' terminus and other elements of the leader. However, its central portion is dispensable or can be modified by insertion of an energy-rich stem-loop structure or long coding region with many internal AUG codons. We conclude that this region can be by-passed (shunted) by the scanning complex. Shunting was also observed in trans between two separate RNA molecules.