In diverse eukaryotes, certain introns increase mRNA accumulation through the poorly understood mechanism of intron-mediated enhancement (IME). A distinguishing feature of IME is that these introns have no effect from upstream or more than 1 Kb downstream of the transcription start site (TSS). To more precisely define the intron position requirements for IME in Arabidopsis, we tested the effect of the UBQ10 intron on gene expression from 6 different positions surrounding the TSS of a TRP1:GUS fusion. The intron strongly increased expression from all transcribed positions, but had no effect when 204 nt or more upstream of the 5'-most TSS. When the intron was located in the 5' UTR, the TSS unexpectedly changed, resulting in longer transcripts. Remarkably, deleting 303 nt of the core promoter, including all known TSS's and all but 18 nt of the 5' UTR, had virtually no effect on the level of gene expression as long as a stimulating intron was included in the gene. When the core promoter was deleted, transcription initiated in normally untranscribed sequences the same distance upstream of the intron as when the promoter was intact. Together, these results suggest that certain introns play unexpectedly large roles in directing transcription initiation and represent a previously unrecognized type of downstream regulatory elements for genes transcribed by RNA polymerase II. This study also demonstrates considerable flexibility in the sequences surrounding the TSS, indicating that the TSS is not determined by promoter sequences alone. These findings are relevant in practical applications where introns are used to increase gene expression and contribute to our general understanding of gene structure and regulation in eukaryotes.