One of the consequences of the heat shock response is a shutdown of pre-mRNA splicing, a phenomenon that can be reproduced in extracts prepared from heat-shocked cells. The block in splicing occurs before the covalent modifications that generate spliced mRNA at the level of spliceosome formation. We have used extracts prepared from heat-shocked cells as a complementation system to characterize and partially purify a protein factor that is inactivated during the in vivo heat shock. The activity functions in the formation of the active spliceosome by assembling U4/U6 and U5 snRNPs into a triple snRNP particle. The factor appears to be different from previously isolated splicing factors and is functionally equivalent to several polypeptides that are specifically associated with the purified triple snRNP but not with individual U4/U6 or U5 snRNPs. Our data confirm the hypothesis that U4/U6 and U5 snRNPs enter the spliceosome as a triple snRNP complex and show for the first time a function of specific snRNP-associated polypeptides in the mammalian splicing pathway.