The ability to adopt complex three-dimensional (3D) structures that can rapidly interconvert between multiple functional states (folding and dynamics) is vital for the proper functioning of RNAs. Consequently, RNA structure and dynamics necessarily determine their biological function. In the post-genomic era, it is clear that RNAs comprise a larger proportion (>50%) of the transcribed genome compared to proteins (≤ 2%). Yet the determination of the 3D structures of RNAs lags considerably behind those of proteins and to date there are even fewer investigations of dynamics in RNAs compared to proteins. Site specific incorporation of various structural and dynamic probes into nucleic acids would likely transform RNA structural biology. Therefore, various methods for introducing probes for structural, functional, and biotechnological applications are critically assessed here. These probes include stable isotopes such as 2
N, and 19
F. Incorporation of these probes using improved RNA ligation strategies promises to change the landscape of structural biology of supramacromolecules probed by biophysical tools such as nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography and Raman spectroscopy. Finally, some of the structural and dynamic problems that can be addressed using these technological advances are outlined.