For over a decade two research and extension services have operated in Chile with little contact between them. The first comprised governmental research and extension agencies (INIA and INDAP, respectively). The second consisted of the efforts of over 60 non-governmental organisations (NGOs). In 1989 the official services reached about 27,000 small farmers, while the NGOs worked with nearly 15,000 families. A primary characteristic of the official programme was that the extension role was played by private consultancy firms which received government payments in order to provide technical assistance services to individual small farmers. INDAP as such did not have extension agents working in the field. On the other hand, NGOs were distinguished by the way their extension programmes placed a strong emphasis on the development of grassroots farmers' organisations through which different types of rural development projects were implemented. Following political changes in Chile in 1990, an in-depth reorganisation of government programmes is underway. An important characteristic of this new scheme is that it will bring research and extension closer together in developing and disseminating technologies through a farming .systems approach at some 50 local centres. Extension will continue to operate through Technology Transfer Consultants, now comprising private companies, farmers' organisations and NGOs, which are commissioned by government to perform specified activities.