This paper describes the development and recent history of the third component of the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) strategy, improving household and community practices (HH/C IMCI). An implementation framework for this third component, developed through review of experiences of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in community-based child health and nutrition programmes, is then presented. This Framework responds to demand from NGOs and their partners for a description of the different categories of community-level activities necessary for the implementation of a comprehensive child health and nutrition programme. These categories of activities facilitate the systematic cataloguing, synthesis and coordination of organizational activities and experience. It also serves as a reference tool for improving communication of related community child health activities, and a guide for designing appropriate behaviour change strategies. The Framework was endorsed by participants in an international workshop held in Baltimore, Maryland in January 2001, and specified three linked elements that are integral to HH/C IMCI, supported by a multi-sectoral platform that addresses constraints communities face in adopting practices that promote health and nutrition. The three programmatic Elements critical to HH/C IMCI programmes are (1). improving partnerships between health facilities or services and the communities they serve; (2). increasing appropriate and accessible care and information from community-based providers; and (3). integrating promotion of key family practices critical for child health and nutrition. The Framework presented in this paper is an ideal tool for describing, sharing and coordinating efforts in the field, and is purposely descriptive rather than prescriptive.