"Crawling" is one of the few songs on Hybrid Theory that does not prominently feature Mike Shinoda's rap sung lyrics. The intro to "Crawling" has been remixed in live versions over the years. Since 2008's Projekt Revolution, Mike Shinoda has rapped the first verse of "Hands Held High" over the intro to Reanimation version of "Crawling", titled "Krwlng". In 2009, Shinoda rapped 2 verses of "Hands Held High" over the intro of "Crawling", which first verse started with an a cappella or a bass line before the Reanimation intro started, in which Shinoda raps the second verse. Singer Chester Bennington has remarked that "Crawling" is the most difficult Linkin Park song to sing live, stating "Crawling has caused me the most trouble live more than any other song." Bennington has also commented on the meaning of "Crawling" by stating it was inspired by his own battles with substance abuse. "Crawling is about feeling like I had no control over myself in terms of drugs and alcohol..."
The video was directed by Brothers Strause. It portrays a young woman's inner conflict dealing with an abusive relationship. The woman (portrayed by Katelyn Rosaasen) closes off to the rest of the world, represented with the special effects of crystals forming around her. By the end, the crystals recede, symbolizing her success in fighting the relationship. The band is said to be performing in a Fortress of Solitude. Chester's labret piercing is meant to match with the woman's septum ring because of the real meaning behind the song.
This video was supposed to have a "darker" ending to it when the first synopsis was written, being a take on Species where a psycho fan kills the band, but Warner Brothers rejected the idea, and the final ending was written in its place.
"Crawling" was Phoenix's first video with the band. Phoenix returned to Linkin Park just before they began work on this video.
A "Strictly Limited Numbered Edition" DVD single was also released which includes a live version of "Crawling" that was performed at the Dragon Festival, though the audio is dubbed with the studio version of the song. The video has a multiple camera angle feature which allows viewers to see different camera angles of the performance with the use of the DVD remote control. The DVD also has four 30-second live snippets of "One Step Closer", "By Myself", "With You", and "A Place for My Head". The live "Crawling" video is available exclusively on Warner Bros. RecordsYouTube channel, which was uploaded on February 9, 2010.
The song has seen a success in many countries. In the UK, the song debuted and peaked at #16, remaining in the chart for 8 weeks. It reached the top ten in Canada and Austria. It reached the top thirty and top forty in many countries, it was more successful than "One Step Closer". However, it peaked only at #79 in the US, becoming their lowest charting single until they released "Given Up", which peaked at #99, although it manage to peak at #5 on the Modern Rock Track Chart and #3 on the Mainstream Rock Track Chart. Despite the low peak, the song has remained for 20 weeks at the bottom of the chart.