Abstract  This paper examines the influence of community attachment on voluntary citizen participation in rural community improvement projects. We do so by modifying the original systemic model of community attachment (Kasarda and Janowitz 1974) and combining it with tenets of rational choice and social embeddedness theories. The modified model is then extended to consider voluntary participation in community projects by accounting for the influence of community attachment through both a solidarity of interests and a solidarity of sentiments (Bell 1998). Based on survey results of almost 9,000 citizens across 99 small (500–10,000) Iowa communities, findings provide overall support for the expected positive influence of local social ties (weak informal, strong informal, and formal) on the two forms of community attachment which, in turn, positively affect voluntary participation. Attachment in the form of community interests shows a strong direct and indirect effect on voluntary participation, while sentiment's influence is largely indirect. We conclude by considering the relevance of our findings to ongoing discussions of social capital.