RNA interference allows the analysis of gene function by introducing synthetic, short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) into cells. In contrast to siRNA and microRNA duplexes generated endogenously by the RNaseIII endonuclease Dicer, synthetic siRNAs display a 5' OH group. However, to become incorporated into the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC) and mediate target RNA cleavage, the guide strand of an siRNA needs to display a phosphate group at the 5' end. The identity of the responsible kinase has so far remained elusive. Monitoring siRNA phosphorylation, we applied a chromatographic approach that resulted in the identification of the protein hClp1 (human Clp1), a known component of both transfer RNA splicing and messenger RNA 3'-end formation machineries. Here we report that the kinase hClp1 phosphorylates and licenses synthetic siRNAs to become assembled into RISC for subsequent target RNA cleavage. More importantly, we reveal the physiological role of hClp1 as the RNA kinase that phosphorylates the 5' end of the 3' exon during human tRNA splicing, allowing the subsequent ligation of both exon halves by an unknown tRNA ligase. The investigation of this novel enzymatic activity of hClp1 in the context of mRNA 3'-end formation, where no RNA phosphorylation event has hitherto been predicted, remains a challenge for the future.