During the mid 1990s, high HIV and sexually transmitted disease (STD) prevalence led to calls for the integration of effective services with maternal and child health and family planning (MCH/FP) programs. There are advantages and disadvantages to integration, but little evidence existed to assess the practicalities of implementing this policy. Analysis of policy development for integration was conducted in Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, and Zambia. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with policy-makers at national, provincial and district levels and a survey of facilities was undertaken to identify gaps between policy intent and implementation. Significant advances had been made at the national level to formulate policies to integrate reproductive health and primary health care. However, barriers to implementation included entrenched HIV/STD and MCH/FP vertical programs; diverse demands on district managers and providers, such as on-going institutional reform; and conflicting objectives of international donors. Policy-makers need to address conflicting objectives between the needs for vertical accountability and the reality of providing integrated services. More careful consideration of implementation is required at earlier stages of policy design. Increased consultation with those who are to implement and provide integrated services is recommended.