Noncoding RNAs are an emerging class of nonpeptide regulators of metabolism. Metabolic diseases and the altered metabolic environment induce marked changes in levels of microRNAs and long noncoding RNAs. Furthermore, recent studies indicate that a growing number of microRNAs and long noncoding RNAs serve as critical mediators of adaptive and maladaptive responses through their effects on gene expression. The metabolic environment also has a profound impact on the functions of classes of noncoding RNAs that have been thought primarily to subserve housekeeping functions in cells - ribosomal RNAs, transfer RNAs, and small nucleolar RNAs. Evidence is accumulating that these RNAs are also components of an integrated cellular response to the metabolic milieu. This Perspective discusses the different classes of noncoding RNAs and their contributions to the pathogenesis of metabolic stress.