The pol gene of the Moloney murine leukemia virus (M-MuLV) is expressed as a Gag-Pol fusion protein through an in-frame suppression of the UAG termination codon located between the two genes. The role of nucleotide context in suppression was investigated, in a rabbit reticulocyte lysate translation system, using site-directed mutagenesis. The results indicate that the translational readthrough is mediated by at least 50 bases long RNA sequence located 3′ to the gag UAG termination codon. Within this sequence a short purine-rich sequence adjacent to the amber codon, highly conserved among different retroviruses, appears essential for M-MuLV suppression. Two alternative putative stem and loop like RNA structures can be drawn at the gag-pol junction, one abutting the gag UAG codon, and the second downstream to it. None of these structures appears to be important to the suppression process.