In response to an international strategy to prioritise and focus research efforts in leprosy, this conceptual protocol outlines a research plan to address key translational research priorities. The protocol describes in broad terms a five-phase psychosocial and service-related research programme to facilitate: prevention of delay in diagnosis, improvement of adherence with multi-drug therapy, the roll out of chemoprophylaxis and increased participation in community based rehabilitation. The protocol proposes a model of research utilisation and the notion of complexity to form an integrating theoretical framework for exploring and enhancing research translation. The proposed sequential research programme is characterised by traditional and participatory strategies, culminating in participatory implementation of findings. Publication of the conceptual protocol prior to operationalisation and commencement of the research aims to encourage debate, refinement of strategies, collaboration and the optimisation of resources.