The 5'-cap structure that typifies all polymerase II-transcribed RNAs plays important roles in pre-mRNA processing and mRNA export, translation and quality control. Removal of the cap is a regulated process that is considered to be the first irreversible step in mRNA decay. An emerging view challenges this idea: mRNAs have been identified in mammalian cells that lack sequences from their 5' ends but nevertheless appear to be modified with a cap or cap-like structure. Furthermore, a cytoplasmic form of capping enzyme was recently identified that, together with a novel kinase, generates capped ends from cleaved RNAs. These and other findings provide evidence for re-capping and its possible functions.