All eukaryotic mRNAs (except organellar) are capped at their 5' end. The cap structure (m7GpppN, where N is any nucleotide) is extremely important for the processing and translation of mRNA. Several cap-binding proteins that facilitate these processes have been characterized. Here we describe a novel human cytoplasmic protein that is 30% identical and 60% similar to the human translation initiation factor 4E (eIF4E). We demonstrate that this protein, named 4E Homologous Protein (4EHP), binds specifically to capped RNA in an ATP- and divalent ion-independent manner. The three-dimensional structure of 4EHP, as predicted by homology modeling, closely resembles that of eIF4E and site-directed mutagenesis analysis of 4EHP strongly suggests that it shares with eIF4E a common mechanism for cap binding. A putative function for 4EHP is discussed.