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Targetdrone.gif This article is about the the Tyranid species. For other uses of Genestealer, see Genestealer (disambiguation).

A Genestealer is a species of Tyranid used as the ultimate shock trooper. Their purpose is to advance ahead of a Hive Fleet and pinpoint potential planets for the Tyranids to devour. They are amongst the deadliest creatures in the Galaxy, combining high cunning and lightning-fast reactions and movement, with large, extremely sharp claws that can rip through the toughest armour in seconds.[1b]


Genestealers were the first Tyranid species to be encountered by the Imperium. But before the Imperium had knowledge of the Tyranids as a species, they believed Genestealers were a separate species indigenous to the moons of Ymgarl (using leech-like creature called Csith as main host for reproduction)[11] but then spread to other planets by infiltrating passing cargo ships and derelict Space Hulks.[1a] It is believed Genestealers were introduced to the moons of Ymgarl in M35 from Hive Fleet Tiamet in the Tiamet System, carried inside the Imperial vessels that were sent to destroy the system.[2a] In 680.M41, the first Genestealer Cult was encountered by the Imperium on Ghosar Quintus.[9]

When the Battle for Macragge with Hive Fleet Behemoth took place, Technomagi spent years classifying the left-behind bodies, including Genestealers used as Tyranid shock troops. Further investigation confirmed that all Genestealers were in fact Tyranids.[1a]

The truth is that infiltrating Genestealers had been working their way into the galaxy for thousands of years prior to the invasion of the Hive Fleets proper.[3]

Basic Info

Ordo Xenos Departmento Analyticus Record [3]
Designation Genestealer
Common Title Stealer, Leech, Sewerstalker, Scuttler, Clawfiend, Ghost [2c], Snatcher-devil, Cave Nightmare, Clawed Changeling [10b]
Species Name Corporaptor hominis, Corporaptor ymgarli [5], Vermis (Tyrannus) Furii [4a]
Average Height 1.9m
Average Weight 0.3 tonnes
First encountered Ymgarl
Role Infiltration
Threat evaluation High


Two Genestealers[Needs Citation]

Genestealers are stronger and hardier than Humans, able to withstand even the most hostile environments unprotected, including hard vacuum, and are capable of living for centuries [6]. They are a highly intelligent species with a disproportionately large and adaptive brain that is housed in a bulbous head [1b]. They combine extraordinary intelligence and subtlety of mind with remarkable strength and quickness of body.

Genestealers are bipedal, standing in a perpetual crouch, and have two sets of arms, one equipped with Human-like hands, one with powerful ripping claws. Their dense musculature and the distending hinge of their jaw allows the generation of incredible bite-pressure.[4a]

Their olfactory organ is linked at its base to the rear of their palate, combining their scent and taste for possible use as a sophisticated air-analysis method. They also display respiratory gill systems along the dermis/valves between their fused exo-ribs. This system is then somehow linked to breathing holes on their limbs and cranium.[4a]

However these characteristics may not be general across all Genestealers, as they are one of the most mutable Tyranid species and often exhibit a wide and varying range of different traits. It has been hypothesised that these traits manifest depending on the particular host species the infection discovers; this theory has been disregarded by some experts, citing that the traits are more likely different Genestealer subspecies altogether, which are separate from the host.[2c]

Purestrain Genestealers are Genestealers that have been spawned not through the process of infecting hosts but rather by the hive ships themselves in great bio-factories and birthing vats. Not polluted or altered by “inferior” genetic material, they are markedly stronger and faster than a normal Genestealer and possess a wider variety of adaptive biomorphs. This is intentional, as Purestrain Genestealers are the creatures from which all other Genestealers are born, and even a single Purestrain Genestealer can create a vast brood from a local population given time and enough raw material.[7]


A Genestealer Ovipositor[Needs Citation]

Possibly the most terrifying aspect of Genestealers is their insidious method of reproduction. Genestealers reproduce completely separate from a Hive Fleet, unlike the majority of other Tyranid creatures. Through the use of a tube-like tongue called an Ovipositor, known informally as the Genestealer's Kiss[10a], they insert a tiny embryonic organism containing their own genetic material into a host victim. Over time this organism alters the host's genetic code, and their consciousness is also completely suppressed by a localised version of the Hive Mind, known as the Brood Mind, becoming a virtual slave. Any offspring born by the host will be horrific Genestealer Hybrids, which the host will be psychically mesmerised to care for, giving rise to the Genestealer Cults that grow in secret within human and other societies.[3][4a][4b]

Oviposition of victims is quick but not instantaneous, and should the Genestealer be killed, distracted, or otherwise interrupted during the act only a partial infestation will occur. This imparts the quasi-host with some aspects of a true hybrid, potentially including an extreme will to survive, vulnerability to a Patriarch's influence, and other related conditions, while still retaining much of their free will.[18]

The psychic control of the Genestealer's Kiss can be resisted by Space Marines, as seen with members of the Scythes of the Emperor. However even they wear psychic dampening hoods to keep out the Hive Mind's urgings.[13]

Brood Mind

Genestealers have an interlinking telepathy similar to the greater Hive Mind which is generated by the entire Tyranid race. This Brood Mind is smaller and more localised than the Hive Mind and is used to exert complete control over their host victims [3] and also for communication [6]. Their telepathic link with each other can function clearly and without restriction (such as from intervening objects or other forms of shielding) up to one kilometre[8]. It also acts as a psychic beacon to draw a Hive Fleet towards the infestation in order to devour the planet.[3]


An example of an Ymgarl Genestealer[1b]


A Broodlord is the Genestealer leader organism, the strongest and most dangerous Genestealer of the brood.[1b]

The relationship, if any, between the Broodlord and Genestealer Patriarch is undetermined.


A Genestealer Patriarch is the founder and leader of a Genestealer Cult.

Ymgarl Genestealers

A Ymgarl Genestealer is a unique Genestealer subspecies that can morph its own flesh within moments to react to incoming attacks or change its colour to remain unseen.[1c]


Genestealers form the first wave of a Tyranid invasion, either infiltrating a suitable world hundreds of years before the actual invasion, or in the more short term, where they are deployed onto a planet by Mycetic Spores from the hive fleet. In both cases they pave the way for the invasion by weakening the planet's defences.[2b]

Once upon a new world, the Genestealers seek out all forms of life, attempting to home in on species of a highly organised nature. Genestealers at first concentrate on infecting host victims, who go on to breed Genestealer/host hybrids and begin a generational cycle of new hybrids increasingly like the host species. Over decades, the hybrids will spread through a society and a hidden cult is established within the host's society. All members of the Genestealer cult are psychically linked and controlled by the original Genestealer. The cult is totally devoted to gaining political power within the society, often cloaking itself in the guise of a legitimate religion, while infecting suitable hosts, prospering and multiplying, and hiding their true nature from the broader society.[6]

Infiltration Cycle


Purestrain Genestealer[15]

A full Genestealer starts the infection cycle by inserting its genetic material into a host victim. As the infestation spreads and the cult grows, the first Genestealer takes the role of a Genestealer Patriarch and often grows larger into an obese and psychic monstrosity.[4b]

Infection Generation - Contagii

The host victims, or Contagii, return to their own societies and begin to have an urgent need to find a mate and begin a family. This mate also becomes infected with Genestealer DNA.[6] Contagii still physically resemble other members of their species, though they may have a slight blue or mauve pallor to their skin and can be psychically controlled by the Patriach to become mindless slaves, making them the perfect infiltrators.[3]

1st Generation - Maelignaci

1st Generation Genestealer Hybrid[16]

As the contagii mate, the Genestealer genetic material passes onto their offspring, the Maelignaci, also known as Genestealer Acolytes[10a]. The Maelignaci are animals, slow, clumsy and moronic. Within the cult they are generally regarded as expendable shock troops.[4b] They often possess three or even four arms, and are unable to use their host species' technology or weaponry.[6]

2nd Generation - Hybrid

2nd Generation Hybrid[16]

The Hybrid offspring of the Maelignaci, still referred to as Acolytes[10a], are born unique, with no two alike. However this generation can be selectively bred, using their parents like live-stock, and is often manipulated for traits such speed, strength or aggression.[4b] They bear more resemblance to their host species than a Genestealer, but are still unable to use their host's technology.[6]

3rd Generation - True Hybrid

Genestealer Hybrid[16]

The next generation are True Hybrids, and can be mistaken for a member of their host species if they wear disguising clothes or stay in dark areas, etc. Some of this generation are capable of using weapons of their host species.[6] Kelermorphs and Locuses are refined spawns of the third generation cycle.

4th Generation - Primacii

The fourth generation, the Primacii or Neophytes[10a] are almost indistinguishable from their host species, only with slight physical deformities. Some still sport give-away signs such as being bald [6]. They are able to blend in to the host society and work to lure, kidnap, or do whatever it takes to provide more hosts.[3] Some rare individuals of this generation have psychic powers and become a Genestealer Magus or Genestealer Primus.[6] Other types of Fourth Generation Genestealer Hybrids are Clamavuses, Nexoses, Sanctuses, and Biophaguses.

Between the fourth and fifth generations, the Genestealer cult will prepare for all-out war. They will spawn Metamorphs, creatures that echo Tyranid Hive Fleets that are built for war alone.[10a]

5th Generation - Purii


Paradoxically, the Genestealer's DNA reemerges in the fifth generation, giving birth to a full Genestealer, albeit one showing some physical characteristics of the host species.[1b] Thus the cycle can begin anew, as the new Genestealers have the potential to infiltrate other worlds and become a Patriarch.

Over Deviations

The following types of Genestealers may appear in any given generation of reproduction.[10a]

Hive Fleet Invasion

The Brood Mind of a Genestealer infestation acts as a psychic beacon to draw in a Tyranid Hive Fleet. When a Hive Fleet comes within a few hundred light years of an infected world, a subliminal reaction is triggered within the Brood Mind which forces the Genestealers into a frenzy of killing and breeding, thus collapsing the society in which they were hidden and making way for the full Tyranid invasion.[3]

However Genestealers are notoriously independent from the Hive Mind and have a great will to survive. During a planetary invasion Genestealers wanting to survive are innately driven onward and outward from the Hive Fleet by infiltrating fleeing ships. Or, after the invasion, the Genestealers are reabsorbed into the Hive Fleet as pure bio-matter like all other life is. The infiltrating Genestealers go on to infest more worlds and then in turn lead the Hive Fleet to them. No one amongst the Imperium knows how deep and widespread the Genestealer infestation of the galaxy has become.[1b]

Notable Encounters with Imperium

Names of Genestealers in Languages of Other Races

Eldar know Genestealers by many names, the most famous of which are — The Hider in Plain Sight, Hearth-lurkers, Bloodshadows, Kin-thieves.[12]

To the t'au they are known as Y'he'mokushi, described as "beasts of the Silent Hunger" who "steal form as well as substance."[17]


Related Articles



Tyranid Planetary Forces
Commanders Norn-QueenHive TyrantNeurotyrant (Neuroloid) • BroodlordNeurothropeTervigonTyranid PrimeTrygon PrimeMalanthrope
Elites BiovoreTyrant Guard (Hive Guard) • Lictor (NeurolictorDeathleaper) • LeaperPyrovoreVenomthropeZoanthrope
Troops Tyranid Warrior (Shrike) • RavenerGenestealerGaunt (TermagantHormagauntBarbgauntNeurogaunt) • Ripper (Sky-Slasher)
Monstruous Creatures Carnifex (ThornbackStone CrusherScreamer-Killer) • DimachaeronExocrineHaruspexMaleceptorPsychophageSporocystToxicreneTyrannofex
Gargantuan Creatures CereboreDactylisHieroduleMalefactorMawlocNorn EmissaryNorn AssimilatorTrygon
Bio-Titans DominatrixHierophantViciatorNautiloidVermis
Flying Creatures GargoyleHarpyHarridanHive CroneTyrannocyte
Spores Meiotic SporeMycetic SporeSpore MineMucolid Spore
Unique Tyranids SwarmlordDoom of Malan'taiOld One EyeParasite of MortrexRed Terror

Genestealer Cult Forces
Leadership PatriarchMagusPrimusAbominantJackal Alphus
Specialists BiophagusClamavusKelermorphLocusNexosReductus SaboteurSanctus
Troops Acolyte HybridNeophyte HybridMetamorph HybridBrood BrotherPurestrain GenestealerAberrantFamiliarMindwyrm FamiliarAtalan Jackal
Vehicles DirtcycleWolfquadGoliath TruckGoliath RockgrinderAchilles RidgerunnerChimeraSentinelLeman Russ (EradicatorExterminatorVanquisher)
Other Tectonic Fragdrill