From 1980s onwards, Indonesia's government has been implementing crossbreeding with European beef breeds through artificial insemination to improve the beef performance of local cattle, in response to the increasing demand for meat. Crossbreeding is promoted and implemented throughout the country, regardless of the various agro-ecological zones, each endowed with different feed resources in the smallholder farming systems. This study analyses the impact at farm level of crossbreeding in the different mixed farming conditions in Central Java. Quantitative and qualitative information was collected through participatory approaches involving famers (n = 252) in four study areas representing three agro-ecological zones: Wet lowlands (subdivided in two areas based on the history of breeding local cattle and crossbreeding), Wet uplands and Dry uplands. Phenotypic characteristics, reproductive performances, and carcass characteristics of Ongole and crossbred cattle were assessed, together with farmers’ reasons for keeping Ongole or crossbred breeding stock, the functions of cattle on the farms and the Gross Margins (GM) of the cattle component on Ongole and crossbred farms. Across different agro-ecological zones, crossbreeding is not changing the farming systems: herd sizes, farm types, experience in cattle keeping and functions of cattle were about the same for Ongole and crossbred farms. The agro-ecological zones differed in the cropping pattern and feed resources; however, they did not differ in amounts of dry matter and crude protein fed to individual animals. Crossbreeding is changing the individual characteristics of cattle and consequently the market prices of animals. In general, mature female crossbred cattle were approximately 25 percent heavier than mature female local cattle. Male crossbred progeny was 16 percent heavier their local counterparts, whereas female crossbred progeny was 24 percent heavier than female local cattle. In terms of reproduction performances, both local and crossbred cows performed well with calf crops ranging between 73 and 86 percent per year. Most farmers preferred crossbred over Ongole cattle. Simmental cross is the most preferred. GM for crossbred and Ongole farms were comparable within the different study areas; selling prices of crossbreds are higher, but feed costs too. Crossbreeding will continue. It is promoted by government policies and farmers are motivated to keep crossbred cattle as body weights and market prices are higher than for Ongole cattle; however, farmers said that they do not prefer upgrading to very high levels of Simmental. A viable Ongole population is needed to reduce the risk of upgrading to too high levels of Simmental.