The 'healthy city' concept has only recently been adopted in developing countries. From 1995 to 1999, the World Health Organization (WHO), Geneva, supported healthy city projects (HCPs) in Cox's Bazar (Bangladesh), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Fayoum (Egypt), Managua (Nicaragua) and Quetta (Pakistan). The authors evaluated four of these projects, representing the first major evaluation of HCPs in developing countries. Methods used were stakeholder analysis, workshops, document analysis and interviews with 102 managers/implementers and 103 intended beneficiaries. Municipal health plan development (one of the main components of the healthy city strategy) in these cities was limited, which is a similar finding to evaluations of HCPs in Europe. The main activities selected by the projects were awareness raising and environmental improvements, particularly solid waste disposal. Two of the cities effectively used the 'settings' approach of the healthy city concept, whereby places such as markets and schools are targeted. The evaluation found that stakeholder involvement varied in relation to: (i) the level of knowledge of the project; (ii) the project office location; (iii) the project management structure; and (iv) type of activities (ranging from low stakeholder involvement in capital-intensive infrastructure projects, to high in some settings-type activities). There was evidence to suggest that understanding of environment-health links was increased across stakeholders. There was limited political commitment to the healthy city projects, perhaps due to the fact that most of the municipalities had not requested the projects. Consequently, the projects had little influence on written/expressed municipal policies. Some of the projects mobilized considerable resources, and most projects achieved effective intersectoral collaboration. WHO support enabled the project coordinators to network at national and international levels, and the capacity of these individuals (although not necessarily their institutions) was increased by the project. The average annual running cost of the projects was approximately 132,000 US dollars per city, which is close to the costs of the only other HCP for which a cost analysis has been undertaken, Bangkok (115,000 US dollars per year) Recommendations for these and other HCPs are provided.