Recent theoretical, numerical, and experimental investigations performed at the Department of Mechanics, KTH Stockholm, and the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Eindhoven University of Technology, are reviewed, and new material is presented to clarify the role of the boundary-layer streaks and their instability with respect to turbulent breakdown in bypass transition in a boundary layer subject to free-stream turbulence. The importance of the streak secondary-instability process for the generation of turbulent spots is clearly shown. The secondary instability manifests itself as a growing wave packet located on the low-speed streak, increasing in amplitude as it is dispersing in the streamwise direction. In particular, qualitative and quantitative data pertaining to temporal sinuous secondary instability of a steady streak, impulse responses both on a parallel and a spatially developing streak, a model problem of bypass transition, and full simulations and experiments of bypass transition itself are collected and compared. In all the flow cases considered, similar characteristics in terms of not only growth rates, group velocity, and wavelengths but also three-dimensional visualizations of the streak breakdown have been found. The wavelength of the instability is about an order of magnitude larger than the local boundary-layer displacement thickness delta*, the group velocity about 0.8 of the free-stream velocity U[infinity], and the growth rate on the order of a few percent of U[infinity]/delta*. The characteristic structures at the breakdown are quasistreamwise vortices, located on the flanks of the low-speed region arranged in a staggered pattern.