The hallmark of a stem cell is its ability to self-renew and to produce numerous differentiated cells. This unique property is controlled by dynamic interplays between extrinsic signalling, epigenetic, transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulations. Recent research indicates that microRNAs (miRNAs) have an important role in regulating stem cell self-renewal and differentiation by repressing the translation of selected mRNAs in stem cells and differentiating daughter cells. Such a role has been shown in embryonic stem cells, germline stem cells and various somatic tissue stem cells. These findings reveal a new dimension of gene regulation in controlling stem cell fate and behaviour.