This paper describes the development of a conceptual framework for practice development. Drawing on the authors' combined experiences of facilitating developments in practice, a conceptual framework is proposed. It is argued that much practice development in health care today lacks a systematic approach and is often undertaken by individual practitioners who are poorly prepared for their roles. A short history of practice development is outlined to contextualize current development activities. The proposed framework is located in a critical social science philosophy and it is suggested that such a philosophy enables individual growth and development, empowerment of practitioners and the generation of cultural change that sustains continuous growth and innovation in practice. An example of the framework in use is described and recommendations proposed to enable organizations to embrace a systematic approach to practice development.