RAP74, the large subunit of transcription factor IIF, associates with a preinitiation complex containing RNA polymerase II (pol II) and other general initiation factors. We have mapped the location of RAP74 in close proximity to promoter DNA at similar distances both upstream and downstream of a DNA bend centered on the TATA box. Binding of RAP74 induces a conformational change that affects the position of pol II relative to that of the DNA. This reorganization of the preinitiation complex minimally requires the N-terminal region of RAP74 containing both its RAP30-binding domain and another region necessary for accurate transcription in vitro. We propose a role for RAP74 in controlling the topological organization of the pol II preinitiation complex.