Livestock keeping is critical for many of the poor in the developing world, often contributing to multiple livelihood objectives and offering pathways out of poverty. Livestock keeping also affects an indispensable asset of the poor, their human capital, through its impact on their own nutrition and health. This paper outlines the linkages between livestock keeping and the physical well-being of the poor, and examines a number of commonly held beliefs that misrepresent livestock development issues related to these linkages. These beliefs limit the scope of intervention programs to promote livestock and limit their potential contribution to poverty reduction. Recognition of the complexity of the role livestock play in household decision-making and of the opportunities foregone due to these misconceptions can enhance the ability of livestock to contribute to human well-being in the developing world.