The past year has seen significant advances in our understanding of telomerase and other factors involved in chromosome end maintenance. The protein subunit of telomerase that provides the active site for telomeric DNA synthesis was identified in ciliates, yeast and mammals. It is structurally related to reverse transcriptase and thus represents the first member of this protein family with an essential cellular function. Telomere DNA-binding proteins that may mediate the interaction of telomerase with telomeres have been identified and further characterized in diverse eukaryotes. A further elucidation of telomeric DNA structure has influenced our view of how telomeres replicate.