A general method for large scale preparation of uniformly isotopically labeled ribonucleotides and RNAs is described. Bacteria are grown on isotopic growth medium, and their nucleic acids are harvested and degraded to mononucleotides. These are enzymatically converted into ribonucleoside triphosphates, which are used in transcription reactions in vitro to prepare RNAs for NMR studies. For 15N-labeling, E.coli is grown on 15N-ammonium sulfate, whereas for 13C-labeling, Methylophilus methylotrophus is grown on 13C-methanol, which is more economical than 13C-glucose. To demonstrate the feasibility and utility of this method, uniformly 13C-labeled ribonucleotides were used to synthesize a 31 nucleotide HIV TAR RNA that was analyzed by 3D-NMR. This method should find widespread use in the structural analysis of RNA by NMR.