We are becoming increasingly aware of the role that translational control plays in regulating gene expression in plants. There are now many examples in which specific mechanisms have evolved at the translational level that directly impact the amount of protein produced from an mRNA. All regions of an mRNA, i.e., the 5' leader, the coding region, and the 3'-untranslated region, have the potential to influence translation. The 5'-terminal cap structure and the poly(A) tail at the 3' terminus serve as additional elements controlling translation. Many viral mRNAs have evolved alternatives to the cap and poly(A) tail that are functionally equivalent. Nevertheless, for both cellular and viral mRNAs, a co-dependent interaction between the terminal controlling elements appears to be the universal basis for efficient translation.