The kinetics of intermetallic growth in the bulk, along the surface and grain boundaries (GBs) was studied in the Cd-Ni, Cd-Cu and Cu-Sn systems. Bulk dynamic diffusion coefficients exceed by a few orders of magnitudes the tracer self-diffusion coefficients in homogeneous phases. The reasons for this difference are discussed in terms of departure of growing intermetallics from stoichiometry due to the simultaneous existence of two processes: interdiffusion through the growing phase layer and chemical reactions at interfaces. Accelerating contribution of GBs and free surfaces, as fast diffusion paths, into diffusion penetrability of growing intermetallics has been investigated. It was found that the rates of lateral phase spreading along free surfaces and GBs exceed several times the rate of phase growth in the bulk. Accelerating GB contribution depends on the grain size. Nano-dispersed thin films demonstrate maximal phase propagation rates, which several times exceed even the rates of lateral phase spreading along free surfaces in coarse-grained polycrystals.