To measure the impact of past projects on the sustained adoption and development of aquaculture, and to assess the potential for future growth, a participatory rural appraisal (PRA) based on the Research Tool for Natural Resource Management, Monitoring and Evaluation (RESTORE) of 100 farmers (62 with fishponds, 38 without) was undertaken between January and August 2001 in the Noun Division of Western Province, Cameroon. The average household of 14 persons possessed 5.5 ha of land. Educational level is low (less then 35% above primary, 24% illiterate). Most fish producers were small-scale farmers (79%). Of the 360 fish farmers possessing 445 fish ponds (250 m2 average surface area), only 23% were active. Production is primarily based on earthen ponds stocked with mixed-sex tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) grown alone (42%) or in polyculture (54%) with the African catfish (Clarias gariepinus). Most ponds are poorly managed, containing underfed fish despite the availability of large quantities of agricultural by-products that could be used as pond inputs. Average annual yield is 1,263 kg/ha. Despite a number of aquaculture development projects over 30 years, there were no significant differences (P < 0.05) in household economics and farming systems between fish farming and non-fish farming families. According to active fish farmers, the major constraints to increasing aquaculture production to make it economically interesting are: lack of technical assistance (46%) and lack of good fingerlings (30%). Recent political and economic changes have altered the outlook for aquaculture in Cameroon, and a development strategy based on new rural development policies is discussed.