The large-scale failures of development banks in the 1970s and 1980s meant that they all but disappeared from the development agenda. However, there are still a large number of development banks worldwide that operate with various degrees of success. Some governments are also looking to re-establish such banks to address the shortage of finance for higher-risk market segments. To avoid a repeat of the earlier failures, government policy needs to be informed by an objective framework for the success of these banks. This article, based on economic theory and informed by case studies, outlines such a framework. It addresses the following six dimensions of these banks: enabling environment, mandate, regulation and supervision, governance and management, financial sustainability and performance assessment. Development banking remains a risky initiative but, managed appropriately, and using this framework, it can help achieve development objectives.