Recently, the UK government has increasingly focused on how best to bring brownfield land back into use for housing. Pressures caused by demographic changes, regional policies, and skewed economic growth together with government's desire to pursue 'sustainable development' policies, have all combined to increase demand for housing on brownfield land. Yet such land is fraught with difficulty in re-use. The recent Barker Review (2003; 2004) on housing supply, for example, highlighted the structural, planning and other risk factors that can prevent the production of sufficient housing to meet demand at a reasonable price in the right areas. Previous research has focused on the barriers surrounding brownfield re-use. Yet there has been little research that has focused on how the housebuilding industry (as part of the development industry) interacts with other players or stakeholders, in terms of market dynamics at a national and regional level. This paper is based around the first phase of a two and half year EPSRC-funded project, at The College of Estate Management at Reading. The paper sets the brownfield issue in an international context in terms of conceptual models of brownfield, and critically reviews the key literature relating to the housebuilding industry and brownfield land in the UK. The paper also examines two nationally important brownfield areas in England (Greater Manchester and the Thames Gateway) and uses Land Use Change Statistics (LUCS) and the National Land Use Database (NLUD) to contrast and compare the localities in terms of potential brownfield issues, against the backdrop of English Partnerships' National Brownfield Strategy. The paper reviews recent UK government policy in relation to brownfield land, and concludes by mapping out the key research questions to be addressed in the continuing research.