The pioneer (or first) round of translation of newly synthesized mRNAs is largely mediated by a nuclear cap-binding complex (CBC). In a transcriptome-wide analysis of polysome-associated and CBC-bound transcripts, we identify RN7SL1, a noncoding RNA component of a signal recognition particle (SRP), as an interaction partner of the CBC. The direct CBC-SRP interaction safeguards against abnormal expression of polypeptides from a ribosome-nascent chain complex (RNC)-SRP complex until the latter is properly delivered to the endoplasmic reticulum. Failure of this surveillance causes abnormal expression of misfolded proteins at inappropriate intracellular locations, leading to a cytosolic stress response. This surveillance pathway also blocks protein synthesis through RNC-SRP misassembled on an mRNA encoding a mitochondrial protein. Thus, our results reveal a surveillance pathway in which pioneer translation ensures proper targeting of endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondrial proteins.