The IMF was established in 1944 in part to ‘give confidence to members by making [its] resources ... available to them under adequate safeguards.’ Although the intention was that the availability of the Fund's resources should prevent financial crises, in practice the institution often has found itself helping countries cope with crises after they occur. This paper examines how the role of the IMF as crisis manager has evolved, from its earliest loans to the exchange crisis that hit Mexico in December 1994. It argues that the defining moment for this role was the international debt crisis of 1982.