Thanks to the Nobel Foundation for permission to publish this Lecture. We report here the Nobel Lecture delivered by Professor Andrew Z Fire. Together with the accompanying lecture by Professor Mello this lecture describes the exciting years leading to the discovery of RNA interference (RNAi) and some of the underlying molecular mechanisms. Professor Fire nicely points out his own contribution and the contribution of other research groups to the development of this field. He also presents an interesting discussion on the role of RNAi in immunity and challenges us with a number of open questions. The lecture ends presenting the great potential of exploiting RNAi for therapeutical purposes.