Through years of research, the Ethiopian Agricultural Research Organization has recommended a number of improved bread-wheat varieties for production in the different climatic zones, along with accompanying technology packages. In areas such as the Jijiga plains, however, adoption of these varieties by the farmers has been very limited. The principal objective of the study was, therefore, to investigate the reasons why farmers are reluctant to adopt high-yielding improved wheat varieties, and to identify farmers' preferences. An assessment study followed by participatory evaluation of the performance of five improved bread-wheat (Triticum aestivum) varieties and a local control was carried out under farmers' management practices. The trial was conducted at 10 locations (across three districts) on the Jijiga plains for two consecutive years (the 1999 and 2000 cropping seasons) and involved 30 farmers. Farmers' preferred varieties were identified using preference ranking. The results showed that farmers refrained from the adoption of some ‘improved’ varieties of bread wheat that were provided through the extension services because the varieties performed poorly under farmers' conditions. The study also showed that farmers do have multiple criteria for evaluating the varieties apart from yield, though the latter was the major parameter for recommending and releasing varieties for multi-locations. Farmers identified earliness, yield, and quality as the main criteria for adoption of wheat varieties. Accordingly, variety HAR-710 stood first in terms of yield (2.56 t ha−1) and other parameters, followed by PAVON -76 (2.49 t ha−1). Though its grain yield was relatively lower than the improved ones, the local control was preferred to some improved varieties used in this study for other quality parameters. The study highlighted the need for re-orienting agricultural research towards involving farmers at the appropriate stages of technology identification.