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Staphylococcus aureus is a major cause of bacteraemia, which frequently leads to infective endocarditis, osteomyelitis, septic arthritis and metastatic abscess formation. The development of these secondary infections is due to bacterial dissemination from the blood into surrounding tissues and is associated with significantly increased morbidity and mortality. Despite the importance of S. aureus extravasation in disease progression, there is relatively little understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which this pathogen crosses the endothelial barrier and establishes new sites of infection. Recent work has identified a number of putative routes by which S. aureus can escape the bloodstream. In this article we review these new developments and set them in the context of strategies used by other established pathogens to traverse cellular barriers.