The P2 region of group I introns has been proposed to be involved in the correct positioning of the P1 5'-splice site duplex in the catalytic core (Michel, F., and Westhof, E. (1990) J. Mol. Biol. 216, 585-610). The behavior of delta P2 deletion mutants of the td intron is consistent with this hypothesis. The delta P2 mutants are capable of site-specific hydrolysis, indicating that the conformation of the ribozyme is not grossly altered, but they are incapable of transesterification reactions at the splice sites, as would be predicted if P1 is not appropriately aligned within the catalytic core. Nevertheless, the function of the P2 element can be bypassed in specific pseudorevertants isolated by genetic selection from the delta P2 mutants. These results, together with phylogenetic data, support the existence of alternate strategies to create a functional P1-core interaction.