MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding RNAs that extensively regulate gene expression in animals, plants, and protozoa. miRNAs function posttranscriptionally by usually base-pairing to the mRNA 3'-untranslated regions to repress protein synthesis by mechanisms that are not fully understood. In this review, we describe principles of miRNA-mRNA interactions and proteins that interact with miRNAs and function in miRNA-mediated repression. We discuss the multiple, often contradictory, mechanisms that miRNAs have been reported to use, which cause translational repression and mRNA decay. We also address the issue of cellular localization of miRNA-mediated events and a role for RNA-binding proteins in activation or relief of miRNA repression.