Throughout the developing world, private-sector research is likely to increase substantially, giving rise to fundamental changes in agricultural research in the public sector. Public- and private-sector research organizations will need to institutionalize arrangements to allow complementary relationships and a rational division of labour to develop. In fact, the relationship between the public and private sectors has varied over time, depending on a combination of policy and technological factors. An understanding of both public and private agricultural research roles is a prerequisite for informed public policy choice on this matter. This paper reports on a study at ISNAR which documents and analyses the roles of public- and private-sector organizations conducting or funding agricultural research in three Latin America and Caribbean countries. The relationship between the two sectors was examined, and the types of research conducted by each sector and their contribution to the research process were reviewed. The study reports on data obtained during surveys on Colombian, Ecuadorian and Jamaican research institutes that were undertaken in 1992 and 1993. Interviews were held with representatives from 37 selected private organizations as well as 11 public institutions engaged in research.