Policy makers who set out to modernize their maize economies by choosing optimum research investments have to confront a wide range of issues and resolve many difficult questions. Fortunately the global maize research system formed in recent decades offers many sources of genetic materials and information. The stage of development of the maize program and economic and environmental conditions influence the choices planners must make on key issues such as targeting farmer groups, importing varieties, developing hybrids, and conducting basic research. A strategic plan can help the maize program focus its resources on the most critical research and development priorities. The goals identified in the strategic plan can best be achieved by revamping outdated organizational structures that enfeeble research activity and by ensuring that the research organization becomes involved in the technology transfer process.