Initiation of protein synthesis on picornavirus RNA requires an internal ribosome entry site (IRES). Typically, picornavirus IRES elements contain about 450 nucleotides (nt) and use most of the cellular translation initiation factors. However, it is now shown that just 280 nt of the porcine teschovirus type 1 Talfan (PTV-1) 5′ untranslated region direct the efficient internal initiation of translation in vitro and within cells. In toeprinting assays, assembly of 48S preinitiation complexes from purified components on the PTV-1 IRES was achieved with just 40S ribosomal subunits plus eIF2 and Met-tRNAiMet. Indeed, a binary complex between 40S subunits and the PTV-1 IRES is formed. Thus, the PTV-1 IRES has properties that are entirely different from other picornavirus IRES elements but highly reminiscent of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) IRES. Comparison between the PTV-1 IRES and HCV IRES elements revealed islands of high sequence identity that occur in regions critical for the interactions of the HCV IRES with the 40S ribosomal subunit and eIF3. Thus, there is significant functional and structural similarity between the IRES elements from the picornavirus PTV-1 and HCV, a flavivirus.