Cytoplasm-to-nucleus translocation of Smad is a fundamental step in transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) signal transduction. Here we identify a subset of nucleoporins that, in conjunction with Msk (Drosophila Imp7/8), specifically mediate activation-induced nuclear translocation of MAD (Drosophila Smad1) but not the constitutive import of proteins harboring a classic nuclear localization signal (cNLS) or the spontaneous nuclear import of Medea (Drosophila Smad4). Surprisingly, many of these nucleoporins, including Sec13, Nup75, Nup93, and Nup205, are scaffold nucleoporins considered important for the overall integrity of the nuclear pore complex (NPC) but not known to have cargo-specific functions. We demonstrate that the roles of these nucleoporins in supporting Smad nuclear import are separate from their previously assigned functions in NPC assembly. Furthermore, we uncovered novel pathway-specific functions of Sec13 and Nup93; both Sec13 and Nup93 are able to preferentially interact with the phosphorylated/activated form of MAD, and Nup93 acts to recruit the importin Msk to the nuclear periphery. These findings, together with the observation that Sec13 and Nup93 could interact directly with Msk, suggest their direct involvement in the nuclear import of MAD. Thus, we have delineated the nucleoporin requirement of MAD nuclear import, reflecting a unique trans-NPC mechanism.