The following factors may influence the performance of drinking water supply systems in rural areas of low-income countries: community motivation; use of technical and local information in system design; community capacity to maintain a new water supply system; protection of watersheds and access to water system facilities; and ongoing support from organizations outside the community. Field research in rural communities of Honduras provides a basis for investigating how these factors affect rural water system performance. Results from this research also lay a foundation for a conceptual model of water system performance which integrates all of the aforementioned factors.