Cytoplasmic processing events in the poly(A) region of mRNA from Physarum polycephalum are reviewed. Two classes of poly-containing RNA [poly(A)+ RNA] exist in the cytoplasm. One contains very short poly(A) sequences, averaging about 15 adenylate residues, while the other contains relatively long poly(A) sequences, averaging about 60 residues. Molecules with short poly(A) sequences are found exclusively in the polysomes while those with long poly(A) sequences are restricted to the free cytoplasmic mRNP. Since proteins are associated with only the long poly(A) sequences the poly(A) . protein complex is also restricted to the free mRNP. The long poly(A) sequences are relatively short-lived. They are degraded by two distinct processes, a shortening process in which 15-20 residues are gradually removed and a turnover process in which long poly(A) tracts are rapidly converted to the short sequences. This process, along with the dissociation of the poly(A) . protein complex, occurs when poly(A)+ RNA molecules located in free mRNP are transferred to the polysomes. Poly(A) . protein complex dissociation appears to precede poly(A) turnover during translational selection. The significance of these processing events in relation to mRNA maturation is discussed.