The past few years have seen exciting advances in understanding the structure and function of catalytic RNA. Crystal structures of several ribozymes have provided detailed insight into the folds of RNA molecules. Models of other biologically important RNAs have been constructed based on structural, phylogenetic, and biochemical data. However, many questions regarding the catalytic mechanisms of ribozymes remain. This review compares the structures and possible catalytic mechanisms of four small self-cleaving RNAs: the hammerhead, hairpin, hepatitis delta virus, and in vitro-selected lead-dependent ribozymes. The organization of these small catalysts is contrasted to that of larger ribozymes, such as the group I intron.