Cell division, differentiation and function are largely dependent on accurate proteome composition and regulated gene expression. To control this, protein synthesis is an intricate process governed by upstream signalling pathways. Eukaryotic translation is a multistep process and can be separated into four distinct phases: Initiation, elongation, termination and recycling of ribosomal subunits. Translation initiation, the focus of this article, is highly regulated to control the activity and/or function of eukaryotic initiation factors (eIFs) and permit recruitment ofmRNAs to the ribosomes. In thisCell Science at a Glance and accompanying poster, we outline the mechanisms by which tumour cells alter the process of translation initiation and discuss how this benefits tumour formation, proliferation and metastasis.