The political and economic strategies of Philippine chiefs are examined in the context of trade interactions with mainland Asian states in the late first millennium and early second millennium A.D. Archaeological evidence from the Bais Region in the central Philippines is used to document the relationship between emerging political complexity and reliance on foreign trade as an external source of politically manipulable wealth. Shifts in regional settlement patterns, increasingly "standardized" ceramics, and an expanded volume of coastal-interior trade provide evidence for the emergence of more centralized production and distribution systems within the fifteenth- to sixteenth-century Bais Region chiefdom. The initial appearance of violent deaths in burial remains and fortifications at the chiefly center also archaeologically document increased interpolity conflict in the immediately precontact period. The development of greater sociopolitical complexity, the emergence of new internal production strategies, and increased militarism are all viewed as related to the expanding role of foreign trade in the Bais Region chiefdom's economy. KEYWORDS: Chiefdoms, trade, conflict, Philippines.