Health research directly relevant to the needs of the people of developing countries is essential for equity in development as well as for improving health planning and management. the international Commission on Health Research for Development has stressed the need to strengthen the capacity of developing countries, no matter how poor, to carry out essential national health research (ENHR). Clinical epidemiologists in developing countries can significantly contribute to the manpower available for ENHR. They play a major role in the provision and practice of appropriate health care by contributing to the critical assessment of priority health problems and by carrying out scientific evaluation of new and conventional intervention tools. In clinical epidemiology units in developing countries, transdisciplinary collaboration with social scientists and health economics has enhanced the capacity to do research that would influence decision-making and health policy, even as links with ministries of health and other ENHR-committed networks are being strengthened. The potential for carrying out ENHR will be multiplied as national and regional training centers for clinical epidemiology in selected developing countries are established.