Multicellularity has coincided with the evolution of microRNAs (miRNAs), small regulatory RNAs that are integrated into cellular differentiation and homeostatic gene-regulatory networks. However, the regulatory mechanisms underpinning miRNA activity have remained largely obscured because of the precise, and thus difficult to access, cellular contexts under which they operate. To resolve these, we have generated a genome-wide map of active miRNAs in Caenorhabditis elegans by revealing cell-type-specific patterns of miRNAs loaded into Argonaute (AGO) silencing complexes. Epitope-labelled AGO proteins were selectively expressed and immunoprecipitated from three distinct tissue types and associated miRNAs sequenced. In addition to providing information on biological function, we define adaptable miRNA:AGO interactions with single-cell-type and AGO-specific resolution. We demonstrate spatial and temporal dynamicism, flexibility of miRNA loading, and suggest miRNA regulatory mechanisms via AGO selectivity in different tissues and during ageing. Additionally, we resolve widespread changes in AGO-regulated gene expression by analysing translatomes specifically in neurons.