How can extractive industries operating in resource-rich, developing countries most effectively contribute to ensuring that oil and mineral extraction achieves sustainable development outcomes? Beyond a baseline responsibility to ‘do no harm’, to what extent should companies be involved in strengthening public institutions and governance in fragile states? This article focuses on these contentious issues, drawing on a few recent examples. It suggests that although many questions and challenges remain and deserve further scrutiny, the time has come for more coordinated and proactive corporate engagement in addressing deficiencies in public governance.