Despite sharing a highly conserved core architecture with their prokaryotic counterparts, eukaryotic multisubunit RNA polymerases (Pols) have undergone structural divergence and biological specialization. Interesting examples of structural divergence are the A12.2 and C11 subunits of Pols I and III, respectively. Whereas all known cellular Pols possess cognate protein factors that stimulate cleavage of the nascent RNA, Pols I and III have incorporated their cleavage factors as bona fide subunits. Although it is not yet clear why these polymerases have incorporated their cleavage factors as subunits, a picture is emerging that identifies roles for these subunits beyond providing nucleolytic activity. Specifically, it appears that both A12.2 and C11 are required for efficient termination of transcription by Pols I and III. Given that termination involves destabilization of the elongation complex (EC), we tested whether A12.2 influences stability of the Pol I EC. Using, to our knowledge, a novel assay to measure EC dissociation kinetics, we have determined that A12.2 is an intrinsic destabilizer of the Pol I EC. In addition, the salt concentration dependence of Pol I EC dissociation kinetics suggests that A12.2 alters electrostatic interactions within the EC. Importantly, these data present a mechanistic basis for the requirement of A12.2 in Pol I termination. Combined with recent work demonstrating the direct involvement of A12.2 in Pol I nucleotide incorporation, this study further supports the concept that A12.2 cannot be viewed solely as a cleavage factor.