We have characterized a transcription factor from Ehrlich ascites cells that is required for ribosomal gene transcription by RNA polymerase I (Pol I). This factor, termed TIF-IC, has a native molecular mass of 65 kDa, associates with Pol I, and is required both for the assembly of Sarkosyl-resistant initiation complexes and for the formation of the first internucleotide bonds. In addition to its function in transcription initiation, TIF-IC also plays a role in elongation of nascent RNA chains. At suboptimal levels of TIF-IC, transcripts with heterogeneous 3' ends are formed which are chased into full-length transcripts by the addition of more TIF-IC. Moreover, on a tailed template, which allows initiation in the absence of auxiliary factors, TIF-IC was found to stimulate the overall rate of transcription elongation and suppress pausing of Pol I. Thus TIF-IC appears to serve a function similar to the Pol II-specific factor TFIIF which is required for Pol II transcription initiation and elongation.