Tanzania, like many developing countries has its share of problems associated with developing its rural sector where the majority of its population lives. Since independence, the government of Tanzania has proclaimed the development of the rural sector the cornerstone of the country's development strategy. A number of approaches have been tried in Tanzania. Some of them abolished and then re-established in an effort to pave a smooth road towards rural development through improved agricultural performance and provision of essential social services. Besides the provision of social services such as clean water, schools and dispensaries to about half of the rural population by 1982, none of the approaches has led to the anticipated transformation of production structures and productivity of the rural sector. Thus, an analysis of the approaches taken will attempt to identify those areas which need strengthening or further study to improve the performance of the rural sector. The principle aim of this paper is to provide some insights into the rural development policies and operations put into practice by the government of Tanzania since independence and discuss their success and/or failures. The specific objectives of this study are the following: (1) to identify the major constraints to rural development; (2) to identify and describe rural development policies implemented in Tanzania and evaluate their impact on agricultural development, farmers' participation in communal production activities, and the availability of social services to rural people; and (3) to draw some lessons from Tanzania's experience in rural development which may be useful for future policy action in Tanzania, as well as for rural development in Africa.