A detailed field study reveals a gradual transition from high-grade solid-state banded orthogneiss via stromatic migmatite and schlieren migmatite to irregular, foliation-parallel bodies of nebulitic migmatite within the eastern part of the Gföhl Unit (Moldanubian domain, Bohemian Massif). The orthogneiss to nebulitic migmatite sequence is characterized by progressive destruction of well-equilibrated banded microstructure by crystallization of new interstitial phases (Kfs, Pl and Qtz) along feldspar boundaries and by resorption of relict feldspar and biotite. The grain size of all felsic phases decreases continuously, whereas the population density of new phases increases. The new phases preferentially nucleate along high-energy like–like boundaries causing the development of a regular distribution of individual phases. This evolutionary trend is accompanied by a decrease in grain shape preferred orientation of all felsic phases. To explain these data, a new petrogenetic model is proposed for the origin of felsic migmatites by melt infiltration from an external source into banded orthogneiss during deformation. In this model, infiltrating melt passes pervasively along grain boundaries through the whole-rock volume and changes completely its macro- and microscopic appearance. It is suggested that the individual migmatite types represent different degrees of equilibration between the host rock and migrating melt during exhumation. The melt topology mimicked by feldspar in banded orthogneiss forms elongate pockets oriented at a high angle to the compositional banding, indicating that the melt distribution was controlled by the deformation of the solid framework. The microstructure exhibits features compatible with a combination of dislocation creep and grain boundary sliding deformation mechanisms. The migmatite microstructures developed by granular flow accompanied by melt-enhanced diffusion and/or melt flow. However, an AMS study and quartz microfabrics suggest that the amount of melt present did not exceed a critical threshold during the deformation to allow free movements of grains.