There is increasing interest in studying how specific metabolic activities within the nucleus are organised into functional domains. The best known example is the nucleolus where rRNA genes are transcribed and rRNA processed and assembled into ribosomal subunits. Other subnuclear domains have been known for many years through morphological studies but are only recently being analysed at the molecular level. Here we focus on an evolutionarily conserved nuclear domain, called the coiled body, which contains splicing snRNPs. We review recent literature on the coiled body and discuss a possible model for its biological function.