The song was released alongside 'House of Cards' as a promotional single from In Rainbows in late June 2008. It was also released as a promo single for the album in the United States after the album was released and achieved a Top 10 placing on the Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart in that country, going to number eight, their highest charting song on that chart since 'Creep' in 1993.

It was recorded in a live take that was made at a dilapidated mansion. Nigel Godrich, the producer of the album, thought that throwing the band into an 'uncomfortable' situation would create an interesting atmosphere for the recording sessions, not unlike the OK Computer sessions that took place at the St. Catherine's Court mansion in Bath. The band lived in caravans surrounding the mansion while the recordings were taking place.

Yorke has described the song as 'a little bit like Neu! meets dodgy hippy rock. It sounds like that new Australian band Wolfmother'. Yorke told the New York Times that 'Bodysnatchers' was inspired by Victorian ghost stories, The Stepford Wives and his own feeling of 'your physical consciousness trapped without being able to connect fully with anything else'.