This publication, through its focus on maize production in drought stressed areas of developing countries, explores economic, research, and policy issues related to maize agriculture in marginal areas of the developing world generally. Key questions in the debate over agriculture in marginal vs. favorable production areas are reviewed with a focus on maize. Questions include whether maize production is expanding into marginal areas, if production from such areas is necessary to meet future demand, and what is the relationship between marginal production environments and poverty. Different research resource allocations (leading to technological change) are modeled to compare gains and losses to producers and consumers in marginal, favorable, and urban areas of a country. A thorough overview of technical constraints and responses for maize production in drought-stressed environments is also presented. The authors conclude that agricultural research for marginal and, particularly, for drought-stressed areas will continue to be justified on the basis of meeting future demand requirements. Evidence that the marginality of agricultural land is related to poverty is decidedly mixed because of a range of factors outside the realm of agroclimatic conditions. To better determine efficient research allocations, considerably more study in this neglected area will be required. Such research should incorporate data from case studies, and more accurate definition of marginal areas provided by data from geographic information systems, crop modeling, and refined economic measures. The publication concludes with a brief overview of the world maize situation in 1997/98, followed by selected statistics on production, consumption, and trade for all regions of the world.