Judicious management of our natural resources is a major pillar of sustainable agriculture, broadly defined. It is, therefore, unfortunate that, until now, research in natural resources management (NRM) has not received sufficient support, or the recognition that other agricultural research topics have had. The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) recognized, early on, the complementarities and synergies between NRM research and other themes, notably genetic improvement, and its research Centres have pursued some vigorous programmes for many years. The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) to the CGIAR was supportive of such programmes from the start and provided advice to the CGIAR System on NRM research strategies. Highlights of such advice over the last 20 years are discussed, including the ecoregional approach, the 1996 study of Priorities and Strategies for Soil and Water Research, and the CGIAR Vision and Strategy of 2000. Recent developments at the Centres leading to the promotion of integrated approaches to NRM (INRM) are described, and a set of priority areas in INRM research for future CGIAR activities is presented.