Despite the increasing number of multidisciplinary community-university research partnerships designed to address real-world issues, little is known about their nature. This article describes the features and impacts of five research partnerships addressing health or social service issues, which constituted a convenience sample from the province of Ontario, Canada. The article describes their characteristics, ways of operating, outputs, types of requests received from community members and mid-term impacts. Requests directed to partnerships were tracked over a 10-month period in 2003 to 2004, using a research contact checklist, and 174 community members later completed an impact questionnaire capturing perceptions of the impacts of the partnerships on personal knowledge and research skill development, organisational/group access to and use of information, and community and organisational development. The data indicated that partnerships had similar priorities and magnitudes of mid-term impacts, yet differed in the scope of their partnering, realm of intended influence and the number of mechanisms used to engage and communicate with target audiences. The partnerships produced different types of outputs and received different types of requests from community members. The findings inform researchers about partnership diversity and help to establish more realistic expectations about the magnitude of partnerships' impacts.