The nucleolus is the cellular site of ribosome biosynthesis. At this site, active ribosomal DNA (rDNA) genes are rapidly transcribed by RNA polymerase I (pol I) molecules. Recent advances in our understanding of the pol I transcription system have indicated that regulation of ribosomal RNA (rRNA) synthesis is a critical factor in cell growth. Importantly, the same signaling networks that control cell growth and proliferation and are deregulated in cancer appear to control pol I transcription. Therefore, the study of the biochemical basis for growth regulation of pol I transcription can provide basic information about the nuclear signaling network. Hopefully, this information may facilitate the search for drugs that can inhibit the growth of tumor cells by blocking pol I activation. In addition to its function in ribosome biogenesis, recent studies have revealed the prominent role of the nucleolus in cell senescence. These findings have stimulated a new wave of research on the functional relationship between the nucleolus and aging. The aim of this review is to provide an overview of some current topics in the area of nucleolus biology, and it has been written for a general readership.