Eukaryotic cells express a large variety of RNA binding proteins (RBPs), with diverse affinities and specificities towards target RNAs. These proteins play a crucial role in almost every aspect of RNA biogenesis, expression and function. The heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoproteins (hnRNPs) are a complex and diverse family of RNA binding proteins. hnRNPs display multiple functions in the processing of heterogeneous nuclear RNAs into mature messenger RNAs. hnRNP A1 is one of the most abundant and ubiquitously expressed members of this protein family. hnRNP A1 plays multiple roles in gene expression by regulating major steps in the processing of nascent RNA transcripts. The transcription, splicing, stability, export through nuclear pores and translation of cellular and viral transcripts are all mechanisms modulated by this protein. The diverse functions played by hnRNP A1 are not limited to mRNA biogenesis, but extend to the processing of microRNAs, telomere maintenance and the regulation of transcription factor activity. Genomic approaches have recently uncovered the extent of hnRNP A1 roles in the development and differentiation of living organisms. The aim of this review is to highlight recent developments in the study of this protein and to describe its functions in cellular and viral gene expression and its role in human pathologies.