The inter- and intracellular propagation of aggregated proteins like tau is emerging as a central mechanism behind progression of various neurodegenerative diseases. The steps by which tau aggregates and propagates is currently unclear. Chen et al. now combine a cell-based model of tau aggregation with a CRISPR interference (CRISPRi) genetic screen to identify components of the endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT) machinery as mediators of intracellular propagation of tau aggregates. These findings reveal a role for endolysosomal integrity in blocking tau propagation.