This paper introduces the policy arena by examining the increasing interlinking of international development policy with security concerns, particularly at a discursive level in the global North and especially since the declaration of the United States led ‘War on Terror’. The authors propose that it is not only the US that has altered its approach to development in light of the new security agenda, but so too have some multilateral development organisations, along with bilateral donors that in the past have been associated with a less politically-determined programme of development cooperation. The incorporation of security concerns in development thinking is not new and dates back at least to the Cold War era. Although the security-development nexus can be construed positively, the linkage has taken on new forms and dynamics in the contemporary context. Increasingly, development is viewed by some actors as a means of addressing ‘looming threats’ emanating from the global South towards the North. The authors suggest that if security for the North becomes a central guiding principle for development in the South, this will be damaging for both the project of global poverty reduction and global security. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.