Nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) directs rapid degradation of premature termination codon (PTC)-containing mRNAs, e.g. those containing frameshift mutations. Many viral mRNAs encode polycistronic messages where programmed -1 ribosomal frameshift (-1 PRF) signals direct ribosomes to synthesize polyproteins. A previous study, which identified consensus -1 PRF signals in the yeast genome, found that, in contrast to viruses, the majority of predicted -1 PRF events would direct translating ribosomes to PTCs. Here we tested the hypothesis that a -1 PRF signal can function as a cis-acting mRNA destabilizing element by inserting an L-A viral -1 PRF signal into a PGK1 reporter construct in the 'genomic' orientation. The results show that even low levels of -1 PRF are sufficient to target the reporter mRNA for degradation via the NMD pathway, with half-lives similar to messages containing in-frame PTCs. The demonstration of an inverse correlation between frameshift efficiency and mRNA half-lives suggests that modulation of -1 PRF frequencies can be used to post-transcriptionally regulate gene expression. Analysis of the mRNA decay profiles of the frameshift-signal- containing reporter mRNAs also supports the notion that NMD remains active on mRNAs beyond the 'pioneer round' of translation in yeast.