MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that function as guide molecules in RNA silencing. Targeting most protein-coding transcripts, miRNAs are involved in nearly all developmental and pathological processes in animals. The biogenesis of miRNAs is under tight temporal and spatial control, and their dysregulation is associated with many human diseases, particularly cancer. In animals, miRNAs are ∼22 nucleotides in length, and they are produced by two RNase III proteins--Drosha and Dicer. miRNA biogenesis is regulated at multiple levels, including at the level of miRNA transcription; its processing by Drosha and Dicer in the nucleus and cytoplasm, respectively; its modification by RNA editing, RNA methylation, uridylation and adenylation; Argonaute loading; and RNA decay. Non-canonical pathways for miRNA biogenesis, including those that are independent of Drosha or Dicer, are also emerging.