This paper challenges the dominant 'colour-blind' stance of development, arguing that the silence on race is a determining silence, which both masks and marks its centrality to the development project. The aim of the paper is to set out a basic framework for exploring this further. Noting many continuities with colonial formations, it identifies three critical dimensions of development which need to be interrogated: its material outcomes; its techniques of transformation; and its modes of knowing. Its analysis of race emphasises the diversity of understandings and the fluidity between them which underlie both their potential for transformation and their resilience. Following Omi and Winant's work on the USA, development is suggested to comprise a process of racial formation, made up of a vast range of diverse and contradictory racial projects which link the meaning of ethnic, racial and national identities to material entitlements.