In November 2002 the World Bank published a report on the Argentine health sector. The report accurately portrays the complexity and severity of the problems facing the health care system. It stresses that these problems are not purely a product of the country's economic collapse, noting that the system has suffered from long-standing structural problems and inefficiencies. Curiously, the report makes no mention of the leading role played by the World Bank in health reform efforts during the 1990s. This paper demonstrates that these reforms did much to worsen pre-existing weaknesses of the sector. The paper criticises the content of the reform agenda and the manner in which it was produced, arguing that these were reforms in which considerations of public health were less significant than conformity to the wider model of neo-liberal social and economic development prevailing at the time. It also highlights problems of implementing the reform agenda, which reduced the coherency of the reforms. The paper goes on to examine the impact of the crisis, noting links with the preceding reforms. It identifies a number of insights and lessons of potential value to other countries which are pursuing similar policies.