Research on speciation and adaptive radiation has flourished during the past decades, yet factors underlying initiation of reproductive isolation often remain unknown. Parasites represent important selective agents and have received renewed attention in speciation research. We review the literature on parasite-mediated divergent selection in context of ecological speciation and present empirical evidence for three nonexclusive mechanisms by which parasites might facilitate speciation: reduced viability or fecundity of immigrants and hybrids, assortative mating as a pleiotropic by-product of host adaptation, and ecologically-based sexual selection. We emphasise the lack of research on speciation continuums, which is why no study has yet made a convincing case for parasite driven divergent evolution to initiate the emergence of reproductive isolation. We also point interest towards selection imposed by single versus multiple parasite species, conceptually linking this to strength and multifariousness of selection. Moreover, we discuss how parasites, by manipulating behaviour or impairing sensory abilities of hosts, may change the form of selection that underlies speciation. We conclude that future studies should consider host populations at variable stages of the speciation process, and explore recurrent patterns of parasitism and resistance that could pinpoint the role of parasites in imposing the divergent selection that initiates ecological speciation.