We provide an overview of the current state of knowledge of parasites in biological invasions by alien species. Parasites have frequently been invoked as drivers of invasions, but have received less attention as invasion passengers. The evidence to date that parasites drive invasions by hosts is weak: while there is abundant evidence that parasites have effects in the context of alien invasions, there is little evidence to suggest that parasites have differential effects on alien species that succeed versus fail in the invasion process. Particular case studies are suggestive but not yet informative about general effects. What evidence there is for parasites as aliens suggests that the same kind of factors determine their success as for non-parasites. Thus, availability is likely to be an important determinant of the probability of translocation. Establishment and spread are likely to depend on propagule pressure and on the environment being suitable (all necessary hosts and vectors are present); the likelihood of both of these dependencies being favourable will be affected by traits relating to parasite life history and demography. The added complication for the success of parasites as aliens is that often this will depend on the success of their hosts. We discuss how these conclusions help us to understand the likely effects of parasites on the success of establishing host populations (alien or native).