Wealth ranking was one of the methods used in the early stages of a collaborative research and training project in Mongolia. It served two main purposes, direct and indirect. The direct purpose was to identify locally important criteria for distinguishing households according to wealth, status and power. It was also used to stratify the populations of the sample production brigades, as a first step towards understanding differences in the ways richer and poorer herding households managed their herds, gained access to key natural resources, and responded to risk. Indirectly, wealth ranking did more than other PRA methods used to 'win over' an initially sceptical research team to the value of participatory field research, and did much to change the attitudes and behaviour of the research team.