Budding yeast noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs) are pervasively transcribed during mitosis, and some regulate mitotic protein-coding genes. However, little is known about ncRNA expression during meiotic development. Using high-resolution profiling we identified an extensive meiotic ncRNA expression program interlaced with the protein-coding transcriptome via sense/antisense transcript pairs, bidirectional promoters, and ncRNAs that overlap the regulatory regions of genes. Meiotic unannotated transcripts (MUTs) are mitotic targets of the conserved exosome component Rrp6, which itself is degraded after the onset of meiosis when MUTs and other ncRNAs accumulate in successive waves. Diploid cells lacking Rrp6 fail to initiate premeiotic DNA replication normally and cannot undergo efficient meiotic development. The present study demonstrates a unique function for budding yeast Rrp6 in degrading distinct classes of meiotically induced ncRNAs during vegetative growth and the onset of meiosis and thus points to a critical role of differential ncRNA expression in the execution of a conserved developmental program.