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In RNA interference (RNAi), double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) triggers degradation of homologous messenger RNA. In many organisms, RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) is required to initiate or amplify RNAi, but the substrate for dsRNA synthesis in vivo is not known. Here, we show that RdRp-dependent transgene silencing in Arabidopsis was caused by mutation of XRN4, which is a ribonuclease (RNase) implicated in mRNA turnover by means of decapping and 5′-3′ exonucleolysis. When both XRN4 and the RdRp were mutated, the plants accumulated decapped transgene mRNA. We propose that mRNAs lacking a cap structure become exposed to RdRp to initiate or maintain RNAi.