This paper reviews 40 years of tortured history of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research’s (CGIAR) attempts at structural reform. Yet the basic structure of independent centers created in the 1960’ and 70’s remains in place despite repeated attempts to restructure the basic building blocks of the system. Instead successive layers of super structure: eco-regional programs; Challenge programs; CGIAR Research Programs (CRP’s); and finally a Consortium with another Board and CEO have been added to foster inter-center and interdisciplinary research. The failure of reforms is attributed to the unwillingness of donors, and the World Bank leadership of the CGIAR, to take on entrenched center interests. Some success in modest reform has occurred at the sub-system/center level but only with much difficulty. The paper concludes with some suggestions as to how reform might be fostered.