Antisense RNA is a potentially powerful tool for creating dominant negative mutations, but one of the limitations of this strategy has been the relative inefficiency of antisense transcripts in blocking target gene expression. To identify more effective target sequences, helper-free retrovirus-mediated gene transfer was used to introduce antisense RNAs complementary to multiple functional regions of the human creatine kinase B (CK-B) mRNA into U937 cells. Antisense RNA complementary to the last third of the coding and all of the noncoding regio of this mRNA is highly effective; one or two antisense transcripts is sufficient to block the expression of one CK-B mRNA. In contrast, antisense RNA from which sequences complementary to the last 17 codons and all the 3' noncoding region have been deleted has no effect on CK-B expression. Neither antisense RNA alters the abundance of the target message, processing of the primary transcript, egress of the CK-B message from the nucleus, or the polysome profile of CK-B mRNA in sucrose gradients. These results point to a direct effect of the antisense transcript on translation and suggest that this effect may be explained at least in part by an inhibition of elongation or termination as a consequence of the duplex formed in the distal coding and/or 3' noncoding region.