Spongiform encephalopathies are infectious neurodegenerative diseases caused by pathogens that seem to be devoid of any informational nucleic acids. Histopathologically, these diseases are characterized by spongiform degeneration of the central nervous system. Although the main pathological changes during the course of the disease occur in the brain, the infectious agent accumulates early in lymphoid tissue. The consecutive development of clinical disease depends on the presence of an intact immune system including mature B-cells and follicular dendritic cells. In this article we review the state of knowledge on the routes of neuroinvasion used by the infectious agent in order to gain access to the central nervous system upon entry into extracerebral sites.