Like other nations before it, Timor-Leste has become an emblem of the international community’s desire to help a nation in crisis, with massive investment in reconstruction and development. Such intense focus from international agencies and governments draws together significant expertise and finance in the face of the mammoth task of nation (re-)building. It also brings competing approaches, potential for exploitation and questions about what happens when this support is finally withdrawn or dramatically reduced. This special issue considers questions of security, development and nation-building from a range of perspectives, illustrating the complexity of the task facing those deeply concerned with Timor-Leste and its people. Doing so allows a broader conceptualisation of the multifaceted entity that is Timor-Leste than might occur within a single discipline, and takes a step closer to developing responses that reflect the diversity and interconnectedness of the various facets of people’s lived reality. This collection arises from a workshop held in Adelaide, Australia in September 2008 which drew together practitioners, policy makers and academics to address security, development and nationbuilding in Timor-Leste. What follows in this special issue is only a taste of the 21 papers and presentations at the workshop, let alone the dynamic discussions that accompanied them.