RNA interference (RNAi) is a method for the functional analysis of specific genes, and is particularly well developed in the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. There have been several attempts to apply this method to parasitic nematodes. In a recent study undertaken in Haemonchus contortus, Geldhof and colleagues concluded that, although a mechanism for RNAi existed, the methods developed for RNAi in C. elegans had variable efficacy in this parasitic nematode. The potential benefits of RNAi are clear; however, further studies are required to characterize the mechanism present in parasitic nematodes, and to improve culture systems for these nematodes to monitor the long-term effects of RNAi. Only then could RNAi become a reliable assay of gene function.