The poverty reduction strategy paper (PRSP) approach has taken centre stage in development asssistance over the past five years. International endorsement of the approach has led to important gains in government focus on poverty reduction, civil society participation and donor behaviour. Yet PRSPs also potentially offer a much greater contribution to aid effectiveness, good governance and poverty reduction in developing countries. With a second generation of PRSPs now set to appear, this article examines the technical and political challenges that need addressing to realise their potential over time. Emerging issues include how to respond to political transitions, alternative design approaches, how to assess financing needs, and ways of enhancing the predictability of aid.