The conversion of genetic information stored in DNA into a protein product proceeds through the obligatory intermediate of messenger RNA. The steady-state level of an mRNA is determined by its relative synthesis and degradation rates, i.e., an interplay between transcriptional regulation and control of RNA stability. When the biological status of an organism requires that a gene product's abundance varies as a function of developmental stage, environmental factors or intracellular signals, increased or decreased RNA stability can be the determining factor. RNA stability and processing have long been known as important regulatory points in chloroplast gene expression. Here we summarize current knowledge and prospects relevant to these processes, emphasizing biochemical data. The extensive literature on nuclear mutations affecting chloroplast RNA metabolism is reviewed in another article in this volume (Barkan and Goldschmidt-Clermont, this issue).