High-resolution structures have given an extremely detailed view of aspects of ribosomes, including some near-functional states. Here, we review the importance of cryo-electron microscopy, among other techniques, in giving an understanding of the higher dynamics of the ribosome accompanying active recruitment of mRNA to the small subunit and translocation of tRNAs. Recent data show that careful use of a variety of different techniques is necessary for a proper understanding of the basis of function in systems such as the ribosome.

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