Eukaryotic cells contain an extraordinarily complex population of small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs). During its brief lifetime, each human pre-rRNA molecule will transiently associate with approximately 150 different snoRNA species. In the past year our understanding of snoRNAs has been clarified by the recognition that the snoRNA population can be divided into a small number of groups which are structurally and functionally distinct. The two largest groups of snoRNAs direct the site-specific modification of the pre-rRNA at positions of 2'-O-methylation and pseudouridine formatio. Other groups of snoRNAs function in pre-rRNA cleavage and in the formation of the correct structure of the pre-rRNA.