During the past decade preclinical studies have defined many of the mechanisms used by tumours to hijack the skeleton and promote bone metastasis. This has led to the development and widespread clinical use of bone-targeted drugs to prevent skeletal-related events. This understanding has also identified a critical dependency between colonizing tumour cells and the cells of bone. This is particularly important when tumour cells first arrive in bone, adapt to their new microenvironment and enter a long-lived dormant state. In this Review, we discuss the role of different bone cell types in supporting disseminated tumour cell dormancy and reactivation, and highlight the new opportunities this provides for targeting the bone microenvironment to control dormancy and bone metastasis.