The brown planthopper (BPH), Nilaparvata lugens, is a major rice pest in Asia, and accumulated evidence indicates that this species is susceptible to RNA interference (RNAi); however, the mechanism underlying RNAi and parental RNAi has not yet been determined. We comprehensively investigated the repertoire of core genes involved in small interfering RNA (siRNA) and micro-RNA (miRNA) pathways in the BPH by comparing its newly assembled transcriptome and genome with those of Drosophila melanogaster, Tribolium castaneum and Caenorhabditis elegans. Our analysis showed that the BPH possesses one drosha and two Dicer (dcr) genes, three dsRNA-binding motif protein genes, two Argonaute (ago) genes, two Eri-1-like genes (eri-1), and a Sid-1-like gene (sid-1). Additionally, we report for first time that parental RNAi might occur in this species, and siRNA pathway and Sid-1 were required for high efficiency of systemic RNAi triggered by exogenous dsRNA. Furthermore, our results also demonstrated that the miRNA pathway was involved in BPH metamorphosis as depletion of the ago1 or dcr1 gene severely impaired ecdysis. The BPH might be a good model system to study the molecular mechanism of systemic RNAi in hemimetabolous insects, and RNAi has potential to be developed to control this pest in agricultural settings.