The purpose of this paper is to investigate how foreign bank ownership in the banking sector affects domestic bank behaviour and whether this relationship depends on the economic and financial conditions of the host country. This paper contains 795 individual banks in 39 countries covering the period 1999–2006. Foreign ownership is calculated using bank level data as a proxy for the degree of foreign bank ownership in the banking sector. First, we find that foreign bank ownership is associated with a decrease in both the profitability and overhead expenses of the domestic bank after applying the system panel Generalized Method of Moments model. Second, a lower level of economic development of the host country enhances the positive effects of foreign bank ownership on the income, profit and cost of domestic banks. Third, financial development plays an important role in determining the effect of foreign bank ownership. Fourth, while the use of aggregate foreign ownership data may provide us with a big picture, it may not explain why individual banks in the same country perform differently, which this study will answer.