"Bodysnatchers" was recorded in one live take at a dilapidated mansion. In Rainbows producer Nigel Godrich 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, Somerset. The band lived in caravans surrounding the mansion while the recordings were taking place. Lead singer Thom Yorke has described the song as "a little bit like Neu! meets dodgy hippy rock. It sounds like that new Australian band Wolfmother." He later stated 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." Yorke and Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood debuted "Bodysnatchers" in May 2006 at their performance for The Big Ask at KOKO in London.
In preparation for the physical release of In Rainbows, ATO Records and sister label Side One Recordings serviced "Bodysnatchers" as a single from the album to American radio stations. ATO was subsequently chosen as the band's official record label for American releases. The track gained substantial airplay on modern rock radio stations and subsequently peaked at number eight on the BillboardModern Rock Tracks chart in February 2008. "Bodysnatchers" became Radiohead's highest-charting song on the chart since "Creep" peaked at number two in 1993.