The use of ‘map-like’ information from the Earth's magnetic field for orientation has been shown in diverse taxa, but questions remain regarding the function of such maps. We used a ‘magnetic displacement’ experiment to demonstrate that juvenile pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) use magnetic cues to orient. The experiment was designed to simultaneously explore whether their magnetic map is used to direct fish (i) homeward, (ii) toward the center of their broad oceanic range or (iii) along their oceanic migratory route. The headings adopted by these navigationally naive fish coincided remarkably well with the direction of the juveniles' migration inferred from historical tagging and catch data. This suggests that the large-scale movements of pink salmon across the North Pacific may be driven largely by their innate use of geomagnetic map cues. Key aspects of the oceanic ecology of pink salmon and other marine migrants might therefore be predicted from magnetic displacement experiments.