This paper analyses the role assigned to foreign direct investment and transnational corporations in the ECLAC development project, examining the history of the institution and its most representative publications. With impressive continuity in its vision and policy recommendations, ECLAC has recognized the need for foreign investment as an aid for Latin American development, but has been cautious about its consequences. ECLAC has continually called for close scrutiny and regulation of the activities of transnational corporations. The main idea underlying these recommendations is that Latin American-owned industries have to be the guiding forces of economic development. In addition, ECLAC has consistently stressed the benefits of Latin American integration in helping expand Latin American industries, foster autochthonous research and development and provide Latin American governments with information and bargaining power vis-à-vis transnational corporations.