This paper summarises the findings of a study that examined the performance of low external input technology (LEIT) in three major projects. The projects promoted soil restoration (Honduras), soil and water conservation (Kenya) and IPM (Sri Lanka). The focus projects were large and well-managed and the study examined outcomes five or more years after project completion. An assessment of the utilisation, adaptation and abandonment of the technologies, found fairly consistent experiences that allow several general conclusions. In many instances LEIT makes important contributions to farm productivity. LEIT is not usefully categorised as labour-intensive, and the growing importance of hired labour makes it difficult to see LEIT as a separate class of technology. Its uptake patterns are similar to those of conventional technology (with commercial incentives particularly important) and spontaneous diffusion of the technology is often less than expected. LEIT, on its own, makes only modest contributions to strengthening human and social capital. Implications for the promotion of LEIT and the development of farmer organisations are discussed.