Abstract Only bodies of magma with a high crystal content and partially molten (crustal) country rocks can ascend as diapirs; once such an envelope is pierced, the diapiric ascent of the pluton is arrested by the high viscosity of a solid aureole. Deformation by shortening of the carapace of these bodies may lead to the expulsion of a magma with a relatively low crystal content, which may then continue ascent via fractures and dykes. The details of the mechanisms of granitoid magma segregation are still unknown, but it appears that many magmas hegin their ascent through the crust as mushes with at least 50% melt, and that such magmas are rheologically able to ascend through a thickness of crust. This ascent mechanism explains the dearth of structures attributable to the ascent of granitoids, in contrast to the abundance of structures that developed during their final emplacement. When a magma becomes too crystalline (melt < 25%) to continue its ascent via dykes, it is immobilised. At approximately this stage, a hydrous magma may become saturated with water and release fluids into the aureole, making it particularly susceptible to deformation. Magma that continues to arrive at this level is also immobilised, and the pluton grows as a ballooning diapir. These characteristically deform themselves and their aureoles by bulk shortening. Magmas that are able to ascend to shallow depths, largely by virtue of lower water contents and higher initial temperatures, tend to become finally accommodated by such brittle processes as stoping and cauldron subsidence. High level intrusions lend to be tabular, are also fed by dykes or conduits, and assemble in tabular batholiths.