The expression level of a gene can fluctuate significantly between individuals within a population of genetically identical cells. The resultant phenotypic heterogeneity could be exploited by bacteria to adapt to changing environmental conditions. Noise is hence a genome-wide phenomenon that arises from the stochastic nature of the biochemical reactions that take place during gene expression and the relatively low abundance of the molecules involved. The production of mRNA and proteins therefore occurs in bursts, with alternating episodes of high and low activity during transcription and translation. Single-cell and single-molecule studies demonstrated that noise within gene expression is influenced by a combination of both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. However, our mechanistic understanding of this process at the molecular level is still rather limited. Further investigation is necessary that takes into account the detailed knowledge of gene regulation gained from biochemical studies.