This Briefing Paper examines the changing role and effectiveness of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It asks whether the Fund is ill-designed to provide effective help to developing countries (LDCs) and whether it is even a net lender to those countries. The paper goes on to consider how well the IMF has adapted itself to dealing with LDCs. It concludes that the effects of Fund programmes, and the extent of their influence on macroeconomic policy, are over-rated. The Fund is able to secure sustained improvements in the Balance of Payments (of a country). But it is unable to achieve its secondary objectives on growth and inflation, or to exert decisive influence on fiscal outcomes and credit expansion. A high proportion of its programmes break down before the end of their intended life.