Rhabdomyosarcomas (RMS) are rare but very aggressive childhood tumors that arise as a consequence of a regulatory disruption in the growth and differentiation pathways of myogenic precursor cells. According to morphological criteria, there are two major RMS subtypes: embryonal RMS (ERMS) and alveolar RMS (ARMS) with the latter showing greater aggressiveness and metastatic potential with respect to the former. Efforts to unravel the complex molecular mechanisms underlying RMS pathogenesis and progression have revealed that microRNAs (miRNAs) play a key role in tumorigenesis.The expression profiles of 8 different RMS cell lines were analyzed to investigate the involvement of miRNAs in RMS. The miRNA population from each cell line was compared to a reference sample consisting of a balanced pool of total RNA extracted from those 8 cell lines. Sixteen miRNAs whose expression discriminates between translocation-positive ARMS and negative RMS were identified. Attention was focused on the role of miR-27a that is up-regulated in the more aggressive RMS cell lines (translocation-positive ARMS) in which it probably acts as an oncogene. MiR-27a overexpressing cells showed a significant increase in their proliferation rate that was paralleled by a decrease in the number of cells in the G1 phase of the cell cycle. It was possible to demonstrate that miR-27a is implicated in cell cycle control by targeting the retinoic acid alpha receptor (RARA) and retinoic X receptor alpha (RXRA).Study results have demonstrated that miRNA expression signature profiling can be used to classify different RMS subtypes and suggest that miR-27a may have a therapeutic potential in RMS by modulating the expression of retinoic acid receptors.