This paper reviews trends in maize production and consumption in Central America and Mexico in the context of the political and economic changes taking place in the region since the 1970s. The authors focus on the effects of the structural adjustment programs in the 1980s and 1990s. The analysis begins by reviewing the economic context in which maize production occurs in the region and the main economic policy instruments affecting the maize economy. Next, trends in maize consumption and production are analyzed, along with the main factors influencing maize production, including trends in the public financing of maize research and extension. The authors find that several factors related to structural adjustment have defined--and are still defining--the course of agriculture, including maize production, in the countries of the region. The impact of these factors on maize production, consumption, and import trends has been different in Central America and in Mexico. In particular, the reduction or complete elimination of production incentives, the reduction of trade barriers, the liberalization of input and product prices, the deregulation of the currency exchange rate, the control of inflation, and the restructuring of agricultural research systems between the public and the private sectors have determined how basic grains are produced in the region and how they will be produced in the future. Furthermore, the visible and increasing deterioration of the natural resource base has raised great concern about the need to promote more sustainable, environmentally friendly uses of production systems and natural resources.