A large class of non-coding RNAs found in small molecule RNAs are closely associated with the regulation of gene expression, which are called microRNA (miRNA). MiRNAs are coded in intergenic or intronic regions and can be formed into foldback hairpin RNAs. These transcripts are cleaved by Dicer, generating mature miRNAs that can silence their target genes in different modes of action. Now, research on small molecule RNAs has gotten breakthrough advance in biology. To discover miRNA genes and their target genes has become hot topics in RNA research. This review attempts to look back the history of miRNA discovery, to introduce the methods of screening miRNAs, to localize miRNA loci in genome, to seek miRNA target genes and the biological function, and to discuss the working mechanisms of miRNAs. Finally, we will discuss the potential important roles of miRNAs in modulating the genesis, development, growth, and differentiation of organisms. Thus, it can be predicted that a complete understanding of miRNA functions will bring us some new concepts, approaches and strategies for the study of living beings.