The BCL-2 gene encodes a 25 kDa membrane protein that plays critical roles in the control of apoptosis. The regulation of BCL-2 gene expression is highly complex and occurs both transcriptionally and posttranscriptionally. In particular, the 5' upstream region of BCL-2 contains a number of elements that control its expression. We have identified a highly conserved 25-nucleotide G-rich sequence (BCL2Q), with potential to fold into a RNA G-quadruplex structure, located 42 nucleotides upstream of the translation start site of human BCL-2. In this study, we used a series of biophysical experiments to show that the BCL2Q sequence folds into a stable RNA G-quadruplex in vitro, and we conducted functional luciferase reporter-based assays, in a cell-free lysate and in three types of human cell lines, to demonstrate that the BCL2Q sequence modulates protein expression in the context of the 493-nucleotide native 5' untranslated region of BCL-2.