Cilia, either motile or immotile, exist on most cells in the human body. There are several different mechanisms of ciliogenesis, which enable the production of many kinds of cilia and flagella: motile and immotile, transient and long-lived. These can be linked to the cell cycle or associated with differentiation. A primary cilium is extended from a basal body analogous to the mitotic centrioles, whereas the several hundred centrioles needed to form the cilia of a multi-ciliated cell can be generated by centriolar or acentriolar pathways. Little is known about the molecular control of these pathways and most of our knowledge comes from ultrastructural studies. The increasing number of genetic diseases linked to dysfunctional cilia and basal bodies has renewed interest in this area, and recent proteomic and cell biological studies in model organisms have helped to shed light on the molecular components of these enigmatic organelles.