The Honduran land titling project (the Proyecto de Titulación de Tierra para los Pequeños Productores), initiated in 1982, was intended to enhance security in land rights, to facilitate credit and to improve agricultural productivity. This study explores how the project has operated in one village, and concludes that it has attained none of its objectives; instead, it has triggered new sources of land conflicts, thus adding to the existing complex of local rules and laws. The authors argue that the failure of the project is not solely a consequence of the organizational incapacity of the bureaucracy, as some evaluations suggest, but that it is rooted in mistaken assumptions about the social organization of property rights and the causes of insecurity. The land titling project is founded on a contradiction: although based on the ideology of the capitalizing family farm in the context of a withdrawing state, its implementation actually requires strong and repressive state intervention. Rather than reducing insecurity in property rights, the project has merely 'modernized' the sources which can be used to contest rights in land.