This paper describes the status of the 2008 edition of the HITRAN molecular spectroscopic database. The new edition is the first official public release since the 2004 edition, although a number of crucial updates had been made available online since 2004. The HITRAN compilation consists of several components that serve as input for radiative-transfer calculation codes: individual line parameters for the microwave through visible spectra of molecules in the gas phase; absorption cross-sections for molecules having dense spectral features, i.e. spectra in which the individual lines are not resolved; individual line parameters and absorption cross-sections for bands in the ultraviolet; refractive indices of aerosols, tables and files of general properties associated with the database; and database management software. The line-by-line portion of the database contains spectroscopic parameters for 42 molecules including many of their isotopologues.