the paper initially considers development a global process (at the same time an economic, social and political phenomenon) and discusses its implications for the modernization paths adopted by the less-advanced countries. this the basis for the proposition of public intervention models aimed at overcoming poverty situations, viewed as the major development challenge of these nations. the models proposed were conceived on the bases of detailed analyses of three different poverty situations in brazil: the rural northeast (an underdeveloped, or low-income area); the metropolitan southeast (an upper middle-income area); and the urban northeast (a lower middle-income area). nonetheless, they intend to have more widespread validity as frameworks from which specific antipoverty programs may be conceived and implemented, as a part of development strategies. the models' nucleus is integrated by three basic variables and their correspondent strategic actions. the first one is growth and involves the mechanisms through which the poor can benefit from it are analyzed. the second is knowledge, embodied in human capital, which commands an effort of basic education and job-training aimed at the poor. the third is labor, a link-variable between growth and knowledge that provides the productive insertion and social self-promotion of the poor. the models include some complementary actions. they involve essentially social public policies targeted to the poor; family planning; the more intensive use of labor as a means to supplement income; assistance to the more vulnerable poor; and the extension of citizenship, provided mainly by the presence of the state in poverty concentration areas.