The contributions of livestock to food security and poverty alleviation are coming under increasing international scrutiny, particularly as livestock producers are also challenged to respond to global warming and the emergence of new diseases. Research is vital to increase efficiency of production, to understand the importance of livestock in agricultural systems and to protect animals and people through disease control programs. For animal health research one of the challenges is to balance public and private efforts and ensure that the demands for livestock and human health are met. Lack of incentives for cooperation between the private and public sector has lead to the neglect of some important livestock diseases (for example some tick-borne diseases) and of livestock diseases than can infect people (for example brucellosis) that remain prevalent in many poor countries in Asia and Africa. New approaches are required to increase the effectiveness of private–public cooperation in developing new products including vaccines, drugs and diagnostics. Among these new approaches the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVMed) builds relationships at the outset of research and continually manages the partnership when results emerge, products are evaluated and opportunities arise. A second approach is to improve the access of poor livestock keepers to the markets for their livestock which in turn provides access to animal health products and the technical support to use them effectively. Australia supports projects to increase market access for livestock products and animal health inputs in many Asian and African countries. The combination of these approaches — improving the supply of appropriate product from industry, and enhancing access of poor farmers to markets — builds new pathways for research to deliver benefits to the poor.