This paper describes the annual conference, this year held in York on 24 April 2008, which brings together researchers from around the UK and beyond who have an interest in the development of strategies for research in complementary and alternative medicine. This year’s event was held in York, and was attended by sixty academics, students and practitioners in the field. As in the preceding events in Northampton and Southampton, the plan for the day was that it be developmental for both the presenters and the audience. Therefore the papers presented were all at a stage where there was scope for audience input, for rethinking the future direction of projects and for developing creative solutions to some unresolved issues. Overall this created a supportive environment where speculation, innovation and creativity could flourish. The keynote presentation was given by Professor Kate Thomas, and she set out her twenty years of experience conducting research into complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). She has been at the forefront in documenting the levels of utilisation of CAM since her early study of CAM utilisation in the late 1980s. She has built on this with several other studies which together provide evidence of substantial use of CAM, which has largely been paid for out-of-pocket, rather than provided for within the National Health Service. Her research interest has extended to conducting pragmatic randomised controlled trials and exploring the policy implications of CAM being more widely available within the NHS, where the evidence for use justifies it. What followed at the conference was a series of seven oral presentations, each one tackling a different challenge. The therapies covered included acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, chiropractic, osteopathy and homeopathy. Two presentations involved studies with multiple presenting conditions, while others had a focus on specific conditions, including secondary lymphoedema, infantile colic, endometriosis, and menopausal hot flushes. Methodologies discussed were wide-ranging, including randomised controlled studies, cohort studies, and cost-effectiveness studies, as well as the last paper which opened up discussion of the broader dimensions of the research culture within which we conduct our research.