RELION, for REgularized LIkelihood OptimizatioN, is an open-source computer program for the refinement of macromolecular structures by single-particle analysis of electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM) data. Whereas alternative approaches often rely on user expertise for the tuning of parameters, RELION uses a Bayesian approach to infer parameters of a statistical model from the data. This paper describes developments that reduce the computational costs of the underlying maximum a posteriori (MAP) algorithm, as well as statistical considerations that yield new insights into the accuracy with which the relative orientations of individual particles may be determined. A so-called gold-standard Fourier shell correlation (FSC) procedure to prevent overfitting is also described. The resulting implementation yields high-quality reconstructions and reliable resolution estimates with minimal user intervention and at acceptable computational costs.