Among the key properties that distinguish adult mammalian stem cells from their more differentiated progeny is the ability of stem cells to remain in a quiescent state for prolonged periods of time. However, the molecular pathways for the maintenance of stem-cell quiescence remain elusive. Here we use adult mouse muscle stem cells (satellite cells) as a model system and show that the microRNA (miRNA) pathway is essential for the maintenance of the quiescent state. Satellite cells that lack a functional miRNA pathway spontaneously exit quiescence and enter the cell cycle. We identified quiescence-specific miRNAs in the satellite-cell lineage by microarray analysis. Among these, miRNA-489 (miR-489) is highly expressed in quiescent satellite cells and is quickly downregulated during satellite-cell activation. Further analysis revealed that miR-489 functions as a regulator of satellite-cell quiescence, as it post-transcriptionally suppresses the oncogene Dek, the protein product of which localizes to the more differentiated daughter cell during asymmetric division of satellite cells and promotes the transient proliferative expansion of myogenic progenitors. Our results provide evidence of the miRNA pathway in general, and of a specific miRNA, miR-489, in actively maintaining the quiescent state of an adult stem-cell population.