The metastatic spread of tumors is a well-coordinated process in which different types of cancers tend to form metastases in defined organs. The formation of site-specific metastases requires full compatibility between the intrinsic properties of the tumor cells and the tumor microenvironment. It was recently found that chemokines which are expressed in specific loci promote the adhesion, migration and invasion of tumor cells that express the corresponding receptor(s). Of the different members of the family, the CXCL12 chemokine and its cognate CXCR4 receptor are the prototypes of this process, although other members of the family (e.g. CCR7 and CCR10) also play a role in determination of the metastatic spread. This commentary addresses the fundamental roles of chemokines and their receptors in site-specific metastasis, with emphasis on CXCL12-CXCR4. The article also describes some of the efforts that were performed thus far in order to identify the intracellular components involved in this process. The focus is put on the roles played by proteins that regulate adhesion and migration of tumor cells in response to CXCL12, including mainly focal adhesion kinase (FAK), Pyk2/RAFTK and members of the Rho family of GTPases (RhoA, Rac, Cdc42). This is followed by discussion of open questions that need to be addressed in future research, and of the potential therapeutic implications of the findings that are available to date in this field.