The two phosphoryl transfer steps of pre-mRNA splicing are catalyzed within the large ribonuclear protein machine called the spliceosome. The highly dynamic nature of the spliceosome has presented many challenges to a structural and mechanistic understanding of its catalytic core. While much evidence supports the popular hypothesis that the catalytic steps of pre-mRNA splicing are mediated by spliceosomal RNA, a role for protein in catalysis cannot yet be ruled out. A highly conserved protein, Prp8, is a component of the catalytic core. We review data consistent with the hypothesis that Prp8 functions as a cofactor to an RNA enzyme.