Protein transport into the nucleus is governed by the interaction of soluble transport factors with their import substrates and nuclear pore complexes. Here, we identify a major distinct nuclear import pathway, mediated by a previously uncharacterized yeast beta karyopherin Kap123p. The predominant substrates for this pathway are ribosomal proteins, which must be imported into the nucleus prior to assembly into pre-ribosomes. Kap123p binds directly to its transport substrates, repeat motif-containing nucleoporins, and Ran-GTP. We show that the related protein Pse1p is also a karyopherin and can functionally substitute for Kap123p; both are capable of specifically directing a ribosomal nuclear localization signal reporter to the nucleus in vivo.