This paper outlines the origins of the Development Studies Association (DSA) in the 1960s together with the main features of the association since its formation in 1978. Some of the leading individuals in this evolution are identified, but it is made clear that institutional pressures have also been important over the years. Issues which threaten the Association include 'free-riding' (the obverse of which is 'externalities') as well as the linked question of those involved in 'development' who are neither members nor involved in the activities of the association. The paper also considers whether the DSA has 'made a difference', links the DSA to its European sister association, the European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), and describes recent and prospective future developments. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.