This free-style article reports an experience with Chagas' disease control involving community participation in the Jequitinhonha Valley (Minas Gerais, Brazil) implemented during the 1980s and recently reevaluated. As an action-based participant research project, it was supported by the Socioeconomic TDR Committee (WHO/WB/UNDP) in the area of Popular Education. The main objective was to investigate the meaning of Chagas' disease from the community's perspective, seeking alternative control measures with their participation. Despite the extremely high prevalence of the disease, it was no perceived as a priority by the population, who were living in destitution and simply fighting for their very survival. Given this situation, Chagas' disease control was performed in an integrated manner, taking other community needs into account. The article suggests some forms of participation in the control of endemic diseases, taking into account the people's knowledge, focused on the "here and now" in an integrated vision of both their problems and their ability to mobilize behind concrete interests. Changes are also needed in the relationship between outside agents and the community, reciprocity in the involvement with community, a permanent attitude of listening and solidarity, a "self-diagnosis", and organization of population.