Encouraged by the early success of using dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) against malaria, the World Health Organization (WHO) embarked on the Global Malaria Eradication Program (GMEP) in 1955. Fourteen years later, the campaign was discontinued when it was recognised that eradication was not achievable with the available means in many areas, although the long-term goal remained unchanged. During the GMEP, malaria was permanently eliminated from many regions. In other areas, however, substantial gains were lost in resurgences, sometimes of epidemic proportions. During the 1970s and 1980s, because of economic and financial crises, international support for malaria control declined rapidly, but in the past decade, following increasing demands from endemic countries and promising results from scaling up of control activities, interest in malaria elimination and the long-term goal of eradication has received international political and financial support. In 2007, there was a renewed call for malaria eradication and a consultative process to define a research and development agenda for malaria eradication (malERA) was established. Lessons learned from the GMEP (1955-1969) highlight the fact that no single strategy can be applicable everywhere and that a long-term commitment with a flexible strategy that includes community involvement, integration with health systems, and the development of agile surveillance systems is needed.