Various mechanisms that enable and improve transmission success of myxozoan actinospore stages towards fish hosts are described, based upon a combination of experimental data and functional analysis of morphological characters. For this purpose, laboratory-reared actinospores of Myxobolus cerebralis, Myxobolus parviformis, Henneguya nuesslini and Myxobolus pseudodispar were employed to exemplarily investigate aspects of host attachment and invasion. The process of polar filament discharge of M. cerebralis actinospores was analysed, showing that full discharge occurs in less than 10 msec. Additionally, a mechanism that rapidly contracts the discharged filament after discharge is described for the first time. Its purpose is most likely to bring the actinospore apex rapidly into intimate contact with the surface of the host. Unlike M. cerebralis, M. parviformis actinospores did not discharge polar filaments after mechanical and chemical stimulation, suggesting a different mode of triggering. For H. nuesslini actinospores, experimental results indicated that polar filament discharge is independent of external calcium-ion concentration but is influenced by osmolality. After attachment of an actinospore and prior to penetration into the host, an ensheathed unit (‘endospore’), containing the sporoplasm, was emitted from the valves in a manner which varied from species to species. Experimentally induced sporoplasm emission was time-dependent and was found to be independent of polar filament discharge in H. nuesslini. Remarkably, it could be concluded that the sporoplasm is able to recognize host-stimuli while still within the intact spore. An updated summary of the sequential course of events during host recognition and invasion by actinospores is given.