The central dogma of gene expression propounds that DNA is transcribed to mRNA and finally gets translated into protein. Only 2–3% of the genomic DNA is transcribed to protein-coding mRNA. Interestingly, only a further minuscule part of genomic DNA encodes for long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) which are characteristically more than 200 nucleotides long and can be transcribed from both protein-coding (e.g. H19 and TUG1) as well as non-coding DNA by RNA polymerase II. The lncRNAs do not have open reading frames (with some exceptions), 3`-untranslated regions (3’-UTRs) and necessarily these RNAs lack any translation-termination regions, however, these can be spliced, capped and polyadenylated as mRNA molecules. The flexibility of lncRNAs confers them specific 3D-conformations that eventually enable the lncRNAs to interact with proteins, DNA or other RNA molecules via base pairing or by forming networks. The lncRNAs play a major role in gene regulation, cell differentiation, cancer cell invasion and metastasis and chromatin remodeling. Deregulation of lncRNA is also responsible for numerous diseases in mammals. Various studies have revealed their significance as biomarkers for prognosis and diagnosis of cancer. The aim of this review is to overview the salient features, evolution, biogenesis and biological importance of these molecules in the mammalian system.