During sea-level rise, barrier islands are forced landward with shoreface retreat. While retreat rate is dependent upon the balance between sediment supply and sea-level change, continuous migration, probably intermittent at times, as opposed to barrier overstepping, is clearly favored for low coastal plain barriers. Barrier drowning and subsequent surf-zone skipping are theoretically possible, but evidence to date from the New York shelf is not convincing. Barrier islands along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf Coasts can be expected to migrate continuously landward with sea-level rise. Exhumation of pre-Holocene or partially consolidated sediments on the shelf surface with transgression can minimize but not prohibit barrier retreat.--Journal abstract.