MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short non-coding RNAs that inhibit the expression of target genes by directly binding to their mRNAs. miRNAs are transcribed as precursor molecules, which are subsequently cleaved by the endoribonucleases Drosha and Dicer. Mature miRNAs are bound by a member of the Argonaute (AGO) protein family to form the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC) in a process termed RISC loading. Advances in structural analyses of Drosha and Dicer complexes enabled elucidation of the mechanisms that drive these molecular machines. Transcription of miRNAs, their processing by Drosha and Dicer and RISC loading are key steps in miRNA biogenesis, and various additional factors facilitate, support or inhibit these processes. Recent work has revealed that regulatory factors not only coordinate individual miRNA processing steps but also connect miRNA biogenesis with other cellular processes. Protein phosphorylation, for example, links miRNA biogenesis to various signalling pathways, and such modifications are often associated with disease. Furthermore, not all miRNAs follow canonical processing routes, and many non-canonical miRNA biogenesis pathways have recently been characterized.