Tunnelling nanotubes (TNTs), also known as membrane nanochannels, are actin-based structures that facilitate cytoplasmic connections for rapid intercellular transfer of signals, organelles and membrane components. These dynamic TNTs can form de novo in animal cells and establish complex intercellular networks between distant cells up to 150 μm apart. Within the last decade, TNTs have been discovered in different cell types including tumor cells, macrophages, monocytes, endothelial cells and T cells. It has also been further elucidated that these nanotubes play a vital role in diseased conditions such as cancer, where TNT formation occurs at a higher pace and is used for rapid intercellular modulation of chemo-resistance. Viruses such as HIV, HSV and prions also hijack the existing TNT connections between host cells for rapid transmission and evasion of the host immune responses. The following review aims to describe the heterogeneity of TNTs, their role in different tissues and disease conditions in order to enhance our understanding on how these nanotubes can be used as a target for therapies. © 2018 The Author(s).