ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of small regulatory RNAs that target sequences in messenger RNAs (mRNAs) to inhibit their protein output. Dissecting the complexities of miRNA function continues to prove challenging as miRNAs are predicted to have thousands of targets, and mRNAs can be targeted by dozens of miRNAs. RESULTS: To systematically address biological function of miRNAs, we constructed and validated a lentiviral miRNA expression library containing 660 currently annotated and 422 candidate human miRNA precursors. The miRNAs are expressed from their native genomic backbone, ensuring physiological processing. The arrayed layout of the library renders it ideal for high-throughput screens, but also allows pooled screening and hit picking. We demonstrate its functionality in both short- and long-term assays, and are able to corroborate previously described results of well-studied miRNAs. CONCLUSIONS: With the miRNA expression library we provide a versatile tool for the systematic elucidation of miRNA function.