ABSTRACT mRNA localisation coupled to translational regulation provides an important means of dictating when and where proteins function in a variety of model systems. This mechanism is particularly relevant in polarised or migrating cells. Although many of the models for how this is achieved were first proposed over 20 years ago, some of the molecular details are still poorly understood. Nevertheless, advanced imaging, biochemical and computational approaches have started to shed light on the cis-acting localisation signals and trans-acting factors that dictate the final destination of localised transcripts. In this Cell Science at a Glance article and accompanying poster, we provide an overview of mRNA localisation, from transcription to degradation, focusing on the microtubule-dependent active transport and anchoring mechanism, which we will use to explain the general paradigm. However, it is clear that there are diverse ways in which mRNAs become localised and target protein expression, and we highlight some of the similarities and differences between these mechanisms.