Capacity building has become a ubiquitous term in the international peacebuilding community. While the need for capacity building in post-conflict contexts is widely accepted, discussions rarely venture into what it is in practical and operational terms, and how it ought to be done. This article 1 examines a major capacity building project in East Timor, focusing on capacity building as it occurs day to day and on the ground. Following a brief overview of the concept of capacity building, it identifies a number of key challenges that arise in initiatives in which internationals work directly with local actors to build their capacity. It then offers a set of concrete proposals, targeted at capacity builders and their managing institutions, for improved practice.