Previous analyses have identified related cytoplasmic Lsm1-7p and nuclear Lsm2-8p complexes. Here we report that mature heat shock and MET mRNAs that are trapped in the nucleus due to a block in mRNA export were strongly stabilized in strains lacking Lsm6p or the nucleus-specific Lsm8p protein but not by the absence of the cytoplasmic Lsm1p. These nucleus-restricted mRNAs remain polyadenylated until their degradation, indicating that nuclear mRNA degradation does not involve the incremental deadenylation that is a key feature of cytoplasmic turnover. Lsm8p can be UV cross-linked to nuclear poly(A)(+) RNA, indicating that an Lsm2-8p complex interacts directly with nucleus-restricted mRNA. Analysis of pre-mRNAs that contain intronic snoRNAs indicates that their 5' degradation is specifically inhibited in strains lacking any of the Lsm2-8p proteins but Lsm1p. Nucleus-restricted mRNAs and pre-mRNA degradation intermediates that accumulate in Ism mutants remain 5' capped. We conclude that the Lsm2-8p complex normally targets nuclear RNA substrates for decapping.