The Dicistroviridae is a growing virus family characterized by a dicistronic genome, wherein each open reading frame (ORF) is translated from an independent internal ribosome entry site (IRES). The 5' IRES that translates the first open reading frame (ORF1) is similar to the picornaviral IRESs. However the second IRES, referred to as the intergenic region (IGR) IRES, - translates ORF2 by and uses an unusual mechanism of initiating protein synthesis. It folds into a compact RNA structure that can bind directly to 40S ribosomal subunits and form 80S complexes to initiate translation in the absence of any initiation factors. Despite its unusual mechanism, the IGR IRES has proven to be an elegant model for elucidating initiation mechanisms employed by IRESs, as well as making it a powerful research tool with diverse applications. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.