Nucleic acid secondary structures in the 5' untranslated regions (UTRs) of mRNAs have been shown to play a critical role in translation regulation. We recently demonstrated that a naturally occurring, conserved, and stable RNA G-quadruplex element (5'-GGGAGGGGCGGGUCUGGG-3'), located close to the 5' cap within the 5' UTR of the NRAS proto-oncogene mRNA, modulates gene expression at the translational level. Herein, we show that the translational effect of this G-quadruplex motif in NRAS 5' UTR is not uniform, but rather depends on the location of the G-quadruplex-forming sequence. The RNA G-quadruplex-forming sequence represses translation when situated relatively proximal to the 5' end, within the first 50 nt, in the 5' UTR of the NRAS proto-oncogene, whereas it has no significant effect on translation if located comparatively away from the 5' end. We have also demonstrated that the thermodynamic stability of the RNA G-quadruplex at its natural position within the NRAS 5' UTR is an important factor contributing toward its ability to repress translation.