Splicing is an essential step in eukaryotic gene expression. While the majority of introns is excised by the U2-dependent, or major class, spliceosome, the appropriate expression of a very small subset of genes depends on U12-dependent, or minor class, splicing. The U11/U12 65K protein (hereafter 65K), encoded by RNPC3, is one of seven proteins that are unique to the U12-dependent spliceosome, and previous studies including our own have established that it plays a role in plant and vertebrate development. To pinpoint the impact of 65K loss during mammalian development and in adulthood, we generated germline and conditional Rnpc3-deficient mice. Homozygous Rnpc3 -/- embryos died prior to blastocyst implantation, whereas Rnpc3 +/- mice were born at the expected frequency, achieved sexual maturity, and exhibited a completely normal lifespan. Systemic recombination of conditional Rnpc3 alleles in adult (Rnpc3 lox/lox ) mice caused rapid weight loss, leukopenia, and degeneration of the epithelial lining of the entire gastrointestinal tract, the latter due to increased cell death and a reduction in cell proliferation. Accompanying this, we observed a loss of both 65K and the pro-proliferative phospho-ERK1/2 proteins from the stem/progenitor cells at the base of intestinal crypts. RT-PCR analysis of RNA extracted from purified preparations of intestinal epithelial cells with recombined Rnpc3 lox alleles revealed increased frequency of U12-type intron retention in all transcripts tested. Our study, using a novel conditional mouse model of Rnpc3 deficiency, establishes that U12-dependent splicing is not only important during development but is indispensable throughout life.