Apolipoprotein B (apoB) mRNA is edited in rat liver and intestine to convert a CAA glutamine codon to a UAA translational stop codon by the direct conversion of cytidine to uridine at nucleotide 6666. We have proposed the 'mooring sequence' model for apoB RNA editing, in which editing complexes (editosomes) assemble on specific apoB mRNA flanking sequences to direct this site-specific editing event. One sequence element (approx. nts 6671-81, the presumed 'mooring sequence') has been previously identified as necessary for editing. We have identified two additional sequence elements which are necessary for efficient editing: (1) a 5' 'Regulator' region which modulates editing efficiency and (2) a 'Spacer' region between the editing site and the 3' mooring sequence, whose distance is critical for efficient editing. Utilizing this data, we have induced editing at a cryptic site and have defined a 22 nucleotide 'cassette' of specific apoB sequence which is sufficient to support wild-type levels of editing in vitro in a background of distal apoB RNA sequence.