Gender and development has grown enormously as a field over the last thirty years. In this introduction, we interrogate the ambivalence that underpins feminist engagement with development and examine what current dilemmas may suggest about the relationship between feminist knowledge and development practice. In recent years, there has been growing frustration with the simplistic slogans that have come to characterize much gender and development talk, and with the gap between professed intention and actual practice in policies and programmes. Questions are now being asked about what has become of ‘gender’ in development. This collection brings together critical reflections on some ideas about gender that have become especially resonant in development narratives, particularly those that entail popularization and the deployment of iconic images of women. This introduction explores more closely the issues raised by such myth-making, arguing that these myths stem from exigencies within the politics and practices of development bureaucracies, within the difficult politics of feminist engagement with development policy and practice and within feminist politics itself.