In 2005, Cabo Verde became the second African country to receive the new foreign aid programme of the USA, the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA). It was among the few recipients of a second grant. Foreign aid has always been a controversial and hotly contested issue, and the MCA is no exception. This paper, based partly on personal experience with the programme, provides a critical examination of the nature, process and implementation of the MCA grants in Cabo Verde. The country had campaigned aggressively for the grants. The MCA not only financed important public investments, it was debt-free and without conditionalities. However, even while it allowed more leeway over its use and implementation compared with other aid programmes, it engendered its own challenges.