Saccharomyces cerevisiae contains at least 24 distinct small nuclear RNAs (snRNAs), several of which are known to be essential for viability and to participate in the splicing of pre-mRNAs; the RNAs in this subset contain binding sites for the Sm antigen, a hallmark of metazoan snRNAs involved in mRNA processing. In contrast, we showed previously that the single-copy genes for three other snRNAs (snR3, snR4, and snR10) are not required for viability, although cells lacking snR10 are growth impaired at low temperature. None of these RNAs associates with the Sm antigen. To assess this apparent correlation, we cloned and sequenced the genes encoding three additional non-Sm snRNAs. Comparison of these genes with nine additional yeast snRNA genes revealed a highly conserved TATA box located 92 +/- 8 nucleotides 5' of the transcriptional start site. By using the technique of gene replacement with null alleles, each of these three single copy genes was shown to be completely dispensable. We constructed multiple mutants to test the hypothesis that, individually, each of these snRNAs is nonessential because the snRNAs play functionally overlapping roles. A mutant lacking five snRNAs (snR3, snR4, snR5, snR8, snR9) was indistinguishable from the wild type, and growth of the sextuple mutant was no more impaired than that in strains lacking only snR10. This widespread dispensability of snRNAs was completely unexpected and forces us to reconsider the possible roles of these ubiquitous RNAs.