The aim of this paper is to analyse the impact of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) on firm productivity using an establishment-level panel of Spanish manufacturing industry that spans the period 1990-1994. The key question concerns the elements that enable domestic firms to capture the positive spillovers associated with the presence of foreign firms. We use Research and Development (R&D) expenditure and trade data to represent the capacity of local firms to reap the benefits from FDI. Our results fail to identify positive spillovers for local firms while a negative correlation is detected in low R&D activities. Further evidence shows that positive externalities have been mainly captured by foreign affiliates. Overall, the general effects of FDI remain very limited in absolute terms compared to similar studies of developing countries.