Behavioural interventions aim to alter behaviours that make individuals more vulnerable to becoming infected or infecting others with HIV. Research in this field has developed rapidly in recent years. Increased rigour in the design and conduct of evaluations and moderate successes in bringing about behaviour change in target populations are the key achievements so far. This paper reflects on these developments, addresses recent innovations and highlights likely areas for future work. Discussion focuses on maximising the potential effectiveness of new interventions, methodological issues relating to evaluation and implementation of interventions into practice. The paper concludes there is evidence that interventions deemed effective under evaluation conditions can be implemented in HIV prevention services and that this is the next major challenge. The immediate goal should be consolidation of the learning that has occurred, particularly efforts to maintain theoretical and evaluative rigour whilst encouraging increased collaborative partnerships between researchers, service providers and affected communities.