A new international consensus has emerged on the need for adaptation to climate change. While there is widespread agreement on the need to move forward vigorously on the adaptation agenda, there is something of a quandary about how best to proceed. Hasty actions could distort the development process, and might even have perverse and unintended effects, including increases in vulnerability. While priority attention for adaptation is indeed needed, we argue that it is wise to look before you leap. Two questions emerge and are the central concern of this paper: 1. How can the legitimate concern of developing countries to reduce their vulnerability to climate change be recognized as part of regular development work, without losing its special status as a global environmental problem? 2. How can climate change adaptation be "mainstreamed" into development activities and programmes in a manner that strengthens and does not distort the development process?