Replication-dependent histone mRNAs are not polyadenylated but end in a conserved 26-nucleotide structure that contains a stem-loop. Much of the cell cycle regulation of histone mRNA is post-transcriptional and is mediated by the 3' end of histone mRNA. The stem-loop binding protein (SLBP) that binds the 3' end of histone mRNA is a candidate for the factor that participates in most, if not all, of the post-transcriptional regulatory events. We have cloned the cDNA for the SLBP from humans, mice, and frogs, using the recently developed yeast three-hybrid system. The human SLBP is a 31-kD protein and contains a novel RNA-binding domain, which has been mapped to a 73-amino-acid region of the protein. The cloned SLBP is the protein bound to the 3' end of histone mRNA as antibodies specific for the SLBP remove all specific binding activity from nuclear and polyribosomal extracts. These depleted extracts do not cleave histone pre-mRNA efficiently, demonstrating that the SLBP is required for efficient histone pre-mRNA processing.