Nuclear eukaryotic genomes are transcribed by three related RNA polymerases (Pol), which transcribe distinct gene sets. Specific Pol recruitment is achieved through selective core promoter recognition by basal transcription factors (TFs). Transcription by an inappropriate Pol appears to be rare and to generate mostly unstable products. A collection of short noncoding RNA genes [for example, small nuclear RNA (snRNA) or 7SK RNA genes], which play essential roles in processes such as maturation of RNA molecules or control of Pol II transcription elongation, possess highly similar core promoters, and yet are transcribed for some by Pol II and for others by Pol III as a result of small promoter differences. Here we discuss the mechanisms of selective Pol recruitment to such promoters.