Cryptococcus neoformans is a fungal pathogen that causes almost half a million deaths each year. It is believed that most humans are infected with C. neoformans, possibly in a form that survives through latency in the lung and can reactivate to cause disease if the host becomes immunosuppressed. C. neoformans has a remarkably sophisticated intracellular survival capacities yet it is a free-living fungus with no requirement for mammalian virulence whatsoever. In this review, we discuss the tools that C. neoformans possesses to achieve survival, latency and virulence within its host. Some of these tools are mechanisms to withstand starvation and others aim to protect against microbicidal molecules produced by the immune system. Furthermore, we discuss how these tools were acquired through evolutionary pressures and perhaps accidental stochastic events, all of which combined to produce an organism with an unusual and unique intracellular pathogenic strategy.