"The implementation of the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has brought far-reaching consequences for rural development: the farmer, liberating himself from his one and only role of producer, can profit from the opportunities and synergies offered by other activities that are complementary and alternative to agriculture. Thus the farmer has an essential role in the valorization of endogenous resources of the area where he carries his activities on. Since 1975, the European Community has financed programmes which have increasingly taken into account the rural development dimension in research activities linked to agriculture (for example the AGRIMED and the CAMAR research programmes). Central to such researches is the notion of endogenous development. While this is still not a well defined paradigm, it seems to have some nice explanatory categories which could be worth to discuss in a conference where different experiences (i.e. North American and European) are compared. This is the main purpose of the paper. A second objective of the paper is to analyze if the framework of the endogenous development could have useful insight (or, at least, could be suitable) for the analysis of sustainability issues.