CreateRemoteThread function (processthreadsapi.h)

Creates a thread that runs in the virtual address space of another process.

Use the CreateRemoteThreadEx function to create a thread that runs in the virtual address space of another process and optionally specify extended attributes.


HANDLE CreateRemoteThread(
  [in]  HANDLE                 hProcess,
  [in]  LPSECURITY_ATTRIBUTES  lpThreadAttributes,
  [in]  SIZE_T                 dwStackSize,
  [in]  LPTHREAD_START_ROUTINE lpStartAddress,
  [in]  LPVOID                 lpParameter,
  [in]  DWORD                  dwCreationFlags,
  [out] LPDWORD                lpThreadId


[in] hProcess

A handle to the process in which the thread is to be created. The handle must have the PROCESS_CREATE_THREAD, PROCESS_QUERY_INFORMATION, PROCESS_VM_OPERATION, PROCESS_VM_WRITE, and PROCESS_VM_READ access rights, and may fail without these rights on certain platforms. For more information, see Process Security and Access Rights.

[in] lpThreadAttributes

A pointer to a SECURITY_ATTRIBUTES structure that specifies a security descriptor for the new thread and determines whether child processes can inherit the returned handle. If lpThreadAttributes is NULL, the thread gets a default security descriptor and the handle cannot be inherited. The access control lists (ACL) in the default security descriptor for a thread come from the primary token of the creator.

Windows XP:  The ACLs in the default security descriptor for a thread come from the primary or impersonation token of the creator. This behavior changed with Windows XP with SP2 and Windows Server 2003.

[in] dwStackSize

The initial size of the stack, in bytes. The system rounds this value to the nearest page. If this parameter is 0 (zero), the new thread uses the default size for the executable. For more information, see Thread Stack Size.

[in] lpStartAddress

A pointer to the application-defined function of type LPTHREAD_START_ROUTINE to be executed by the thread and represents the starting address of the thread in the remote process. The function must exist in the remote process. For more information, see ThreadProc.

[in] lpParameter

A pointer to a variable to be passed to the thread function.

[in] dwCreationFlags

The flags that control the creation of the thread.

Value Meaning
The thread runs immediately after creation.
The thread is created in a suspended state, and does not run until the ResumeThread function is called.
The dwStackSize parameter specifies the initial reserve size of the stack. If this flag is not specified, dwStackSize specifies the commit size.

[out] lpThreadId

A pointer to a variable that receives the thread identifier.

If this parameter is NULL, the thread identifier is not returned.

Return value

If the function succeeds, the return value is a handle to the new thread.

If the function fails, the return value is NULL. To get extended error information, call GetLastError.

Note that CreateRemoteThread may succeed even if lpStartAddress points to data, code, or is not accessible. If the start address is invalid when the thread runs, an exception occurs, and the thread terminates. Thread termination due to a invalid start address is handled as an error exit for the thread's process. This behavior is similar to the asynchronous nature of CreateProcess, where the process is created even if it refers to invalid or missing dynamic-link libraries (DLL).


The CreateRemoteThread function causes a new thread of execution to begin in the address space of the specified process. The thread has access to all objects that the process opens.

Prior to Windows 8, Terminal Services isolates each terminal session by design. Therefore, CreateRemoteThread fails if the target process is in a different session than the calling process.

The new thread handle is created with full access to the new thread. If a security descriptor is not provided, the handle may be used in any function that requires a thread object handle. When a security descriptor is provided, an access check is performed on all subsequent uses of the handle before access is granted. If the access check denies access, the requesting process cannot use the handle to gain access to the thread.

If the thread is created in a runnable state (that is, if the CREATE_SUSPENDED flag is not used), the thread can start running before CreateThread returns and, in particular, before the caller receives the handle and identifier of the created thread.

The thread is created with a thread priority of THREAD_PRIORITY_NORMAL. Use the GetThreadPriority and SetThreadPriority functions to get and set the priority value of a thread.

When a thread terminates, the thread object attains a signaled state, which satisfies the threads that are waiting for the object.

The thread object remains in the system until the thread has terminated and all handles to it are closed through a call to CloseHandle.

The ExitProcess, ExitThread, CreateThread, CreateRemoteThread functions, and a process that is starting (as the result of a CreateProcess call) are serialized between each other within a process. Only one of these events occurs in an address space at a time. This means the following restrictions hold:

  • During process startup and DLL initialization routines, new threads can be created, but they do not begin execution until DLL initialization is done for the process.
  • Only one thread in a process can be in a DLL initialization or detach routine at a time.
  • ExitProcess returns after all threads have completed their DLL initialization or detach routines.
A common use of this function is to inject a thread into a process that is being debugged to issue a break. However, this use is not recommended, because the extra thread is confusing to the person debugging the application and there are several side effects to using this technique:
  • It converts single-threaded applications into multithreaded applications.
  • It changes the timing and memory layout of the process.
  • It results in a call to the entry point of each DLL in the process.
Another common use of this function is to inject a thread into a process to query heap or other process information. This can cause the same side effects mentioned in the previous paragraph. Also, the application can deadlock if the thread attempts to obtain ownership of locks that another thread is using.


Requirement Value
Minimum supported client Windows XP [desktop apps only]
Minimum supported server Windows Server 2003 [desktop apps only]
Target Platform Windows
Header processthreadsapi.h (include Windows.h on Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 Windows Server 2008 R2)
Library Kernel32.lib
DLL Kernel32.dll

See also








Process and Thread Functions