Poly(A)-binding protein (PABP) is a major component of the messenger RNA–protein complex. PABP is able to bind the poly(A) tail of mRNA, as well as translation initiation factor 4G and eukaryotic release factor 3a (eRF3a). PABP has been found to stimulate translation initiation and to inhibit nonsense-mediated mRNA decay. Using a reconstituted mammalian in vitro translation system, we show that PABP directly stimulates translation termination. PABP increases the efficiency of translation termination by recruitment of eRF3a and eRF1 to the ribosome. PABP's function in translation termination depends on its C-terminal domain and its interaction with the N-terminus of eRF3a. Interestingly, we discover that full-length eRF3a exerts a different mode of function compared to its truncated form eRF3c, which lacks the N-terminal domain. Pre-association of eRF3a, but not of eRF3c, with pre-termination complexes (preTCs) significantly increases the efficiency of peptidyl–tRNA hydrolysis by eRF1. This implicates new, additional interactions of full-length eRF3a with the ribosomal preTC. Based on our findings, we suggest that PABP enhances the productive binding of the eRF1–eRF3 complex to the ribosome, via interactions with the N-terminal domain of eRF3a which itself has an active role in translation termination.