In mammalian neurons, long-lasting changes in the efficacy of individual synapses depend on the synthesis of new proteins. To maintain specificity, neuronal cells have to ensure that these newly synthesized proteins accumulate at the appropriate subpopulation of synapses. One way that neurons have solved this challenge appears to be the local translation of extrasomatic mRNAs in dendrites and at postsynaptic sites. Mechanisms, which regulate the targeting, translation, and stability of dendritic mRNAs, involve an organized interaction between cis-acting elements of localized transcripts and trans-acting RNA-binding proteins. The molecular identity and cellular functions of trans-acting factors that are likely to play an important role in post-transcriptional processing of extrasomatic transcripts in mammalian neurons are now being elucidated.