The term ‘participatory appraisal’ refers to a range of methods for data collection, learning and facilitation, which enable local people to play an active role in defining, analysing and solving their problems. A questionnaire survey was used to obtain information on the use of participatory appraisal (PA) from veterinarians working in Africa. A low overall response rate of 28.6% was achieved. Within Africa, response rates varied from 15.6% from government veterinarians to 47.6% from veterinarians working with non-governmental organisations. Information is presented on preferred methods, specific uses, levels of training and perceived advantages and disadvantages of PA. While PA was considered by many informants to be a valuable approach to working with communities to analyse and solve local animal health problems, respondents also identified constraints to the wider use of PA. These constraints included lack of financial resources, low availability of relevant training courses and materials, lack of time to attend training courses, and negative attitudes among colleagues. The author concludes that greater institutional awareness of the role of PA in the development of Veterinary Services is required. Such awareness might be achieved by wider dissemination of experiences related to the use of PA and the development of veterinary-orientated training courses for centrally-based personnel and workers in the field. The latter should include attention to appropriate attitudes and behaviour for veterinary professionals who are attempting to develop services according to the priorities and capacity of the community.