This paper examines attempts to integrate the objectives of biodiversity conservation and social and economic development through a variety of approaches associated with different forms of protected areas and generally labelled as ‘integrated conservation and development’. It examines how the linkages between conservation and development are conceptualized, and the types of policy prescriptions and associated models and practice of integrating conservation and development. It identifies misconceptions about four key aspects that are common in conventional integrated conservation and development approaches. These difficulties involve the conceptualization of community, participation, empowerment and sustainability. Integrated conservation and development projects have often floundered as a result of over-simplification of these factors. It assesses attempts made to overcome these common misconceptions through examining the experiences of two innovative approaches to integrating conservation and development in the Caribbean and in Amazonia. It concludes that fundamental changes are necessary to institutions and management and decision-making strategies to address these issues and to effectively meet conservation and development objectives.