In yeast, TATA box binding protein associated factors (TAF(II)s) are dispensable for transcription of most genes. Here we use differential display to identify a small subset of yeast genes whose transcription in vivo requires yTAF(II)145. Promoter-mapping studies reveal, unexpectedly, that the region of a gene that renders it yTAF(II)145-dependent is not the upstream activating sequence, which contains the activator-binding sites, but rather the core promoter. In fact, a core promoter requiring yTAF(II)145 retained that requirement when its transcription was directed by several unrelated upstream activating sequences and even in the absence of an activator. Taken together, our results indicate that yTAF(II)145 functions in recognition and selection of core promoters by a mechanism not involving upstream activators.