The aim of the RNA Ontology Consortium (ROC) is to create an integrated conceptual framework - an RNA Ontology (RO) - with a common, dynamic, controlled, and structured vocabulary to describe and characterize RNA sequences, secondary structures, three-dimensional structures, and dynamics pertaining to RNA function. The RO should produce tools for clear communication about RNA structure and function for multiple uses, including the integration of RNA electronic resources into the Semantic Web. These tools should allow the accurate description in computer-interpretable form of the coupling between RNA architecture, function, and evolution. The purposes for creating the RO are, therefore, (1) to integrate sequence and structural databases; (2) to allow different computational tools to interoperate; (3) to create powerful software tools that bring advanced computational methods to the bench scientist; and (4) to facilitate precise searches for all relevant information pertaining to RNA. For example, one initial objective of the ROC is to define, identify, and classify RNA structural motifs described in the literature or appearing in databases and to agree on a computer-interpretable definition for each of these motifs. To achieve these aims, the ROC will foster communication and promote collaboration among RNA scientists by coordinating frequent face-to-face workshops to discuss, debate, and resolve difficult conceptual issues. These meeting opportunities will create new directions at various levels of RNA research. The ROC will work closely with the PDB/NDB structural databases and the Gene, Sequence, and Open Biomedical Ontology Consortia to integrate the RO with existing biological ontologies to extend existing content while maintaining interoperability.