The application of anthropology is attracting increasing attention, where once it was thought at best a dubious enterprise. The resurgence of applied anthropology reflects the discipline's broad spread, with persons seeking applications in an array of areas. In this article I reflect on some contentious issues that I have encountered in trying to take up the challenge of applying anthropology, notably in the context of ‘indigenous knowledge’ in development inquiries, issues that demand attention to take this work forwards. A brief historical review suggests that a failure to deal with these arguably hindered previous attempts to establish an applied anthropology. They include definition of the subject we seek to apply, the implications of interdisciplinarity for the social sciences, and the matter of expert status. Other considerations concern giving ethnographic methods an applicable edge, engaging, for example, with the challenging demands of participatory research. I outline five ways to envisage applying anthropology: facilitating others’ exploitation of exogenous know-how; using knowledge of local understanding to further development; transferring people's learning and practices cross-culturally; seeking ways to assist market use of knowledge; and finally radical ethno-criticism of development. They all present us with challenges. And signal interesting times for anthropology.