Merozoite invasion of human red blood cells by Plasmodium falciparum is essential for blood stage asexual replication and the development of malaria disease. Despite this, many of the processes involved in invasion are poorly understood. Recent advances have been made in methods to isolate viable merozoites for studies of invasion. The application of these approaches is providing new insights into the kinetics of invasion and merozoite survival, as well as proteins and interactions involved in invasion, and will facilitate the development and testing of anti-merozoite vaccines and the identification of invasion-inhibitory compounds with potential for drug development. This review discusses these recent advances and considers potential avenues for future research.