The modification reaction of 28 S rRNA in eukaryotic ribosomes by ricin A-chain was characterized. To examine whether ricin A-chain release any bases from 28 S rRNA, rat liver ribosomes were incubated with a catalytic amount of the toxin, and a fraction containing free bases and nucleosides was prepared from the postribosomal fraction of the reaction mixture by means of ion-exchange column chromatography. Thin-layer chromatographic analysis of this fraction revealed a release of 1 mol of adenine from 1 mol of ribosome. When the ribosomes or naked total RNAs were treated with ricin A-chain in the presence of [32P] phosphate, little incorporation of the radioactivity into 28 S rRNA was observed, indicating that the release is not mediated by phosphorolysis. Thus, considering together with the previous result (Endo, Y., Mitsui, K., Motizuki, M., and Tsurugi, K. (1987) J. Biol. Chem. 262, 5908-5912), the results in the present experiments demonstrated that ricin A-chain inactivates the ribosomes by cleaving the N-glycosidic bond of A4324 of 28 S rRNA in a hydrolytic fashion.