This article is a case study that shows the difficulty and complexity of structural adjustment by examining in great detail the reform of a single programme, the promotion of industrial investment in the less developed regions of Argentina. The article describes how the programme grew after 1956 when industrial promotion was first implemented so the reader can fully understand its intricate complexity. The reform process is described in detail, from the time that officials first became aware that the program was costing several percent of GDP to the present. Changing the system was an elaborate process of thrust and parry and counterthrust by government reformers and entrenched supporters of the old regime. The Congress, the Supreme Court, provincial officials and various international institutions were all able to exert considerable influence over the pace and nature of reform. The reform effort also illustrates the role of a free press and public opinion. A cadre of economists working within the government and in private research institutes carried out an effective campaign to inform the public about the programme's excesses. The end result is a precarious and far from simple or transparent, though decidedly less expensive, set of compromises that pleases no one.