Gene regulation involves many different types of transcription control mechanisms, including mechanisms based on reiterative transcription in which nucleotides are repetitively added to the 3' end of a nascent transcript due to upstream transcript slippage. In these mechanisms, reiterative transcription is typically modulated by interactions between RNA polymerase and its nucleoside triphosphate substrates without the involvement of regulatory proteins. This review describes the current state of knowledge of gene regulation involving reiterative transcription. It focuses on the methods by which reiterative transcription is controlled and emphasizes the different fates of transcripts produced by this reaction. The review also includes a discussion of possible new and fundamentally different mechanisms of gene regulation that rely on conditional reiterative transcription. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.