Synthesis of the translation apparatus is a central activity in growing and/or proliferating cells. Because of its fundamental importance and direct connection to cell proliferation, ribosome synthesis has been a focus of ongoing research for several decades. As a consequence, much is known about the essential factors involved in this process. Many studies have shown that transcription of the ribosomal DNA by RNA polymerase I is a major target for cellular regulation of ribosome synthesis rates. The initiation of transcription by RNA polymerase I has been implicated as a regulatory target, however, recent studies suggest that the elongation step in transcription is also influenced and regulated by trans-acting factors. This review describes the factors required for rRNA synthesis and focuses on recent works that have begun to identify and characterize factors that influence transcription elongation by RNA polymerase I and its regulation. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.