Biochemical purification of a pre-mRNA splicing activity from HeLa cells that stimulates distal alternative 3' splice sites in a concentration-dependent manner resulted in the identification of RNPS1, a novel general activator of pre-mRNA splicing. RNPS1 cDNAs, encoding a putative nucleic-acid-binding protein of unknown function, were previously identified in mouse and human. RNPS1 is conserved in metazoans and has an RNA-recognition motif preceded by an extensive serine-rich domain. Recombinant human RNPS1 expressed in baculovirus functionally synergizes with SR proteins and strongly activates splicing of both constitutively and alternatively spliced pre-mRNAs. We conclude that RNPS1 is not only a potential regulator of alternative splicing but may also play a more fundamental role as a general activator of pre-mRNA splicing.