The present paper reviews research that focuses on the dissociation between bottom-up attention and consciousness. In particular, we focus on studies investigating spatial exogenous orienting in the absence of awareness. We discuss studies that use peripheral masked onset cues and studies that use gaze cueing. The results from these studies show that the classic biphasic pattern of facilitation and inhibition, which is characteristic of conscious exogenous cueing can also be obtained with subliminal spatial cues. It is hypothesized that unconscious attentional orienting is mediated by the subcortical retinotectal pathway. Moreover, a possible neural network including superior colliculus, pulvinar and amygdala is suggested as the underlying mechanism. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.