This paper examines the development and achievements of the Teaching Public Health Networks (TPHNs) in England; an initiative that aimed to catalyse collaborative working between the public health workforce and further and higher education, to enhance public health knowledge in the wider workforce with a view to enhancing capacity to tackle inequalities and meeting public health targets. This paper highlights activities under three outcomes: mobilizing resources, people, money and materials; building capacity through training and infrastructure development; and raising public and political awareness. The TPHN approach is shown to have led to innovative developments in public health education and training, including engagement with professionals that have not previously had exposure to public health. This paper aims to disseminate the learning from this complex public health initiative, now in its third year of development, and to share examples of good practice. It is hoped that other countries can use the TPHN approach as a model to address the various common and country-specific challenges in public health workforce development. © 2009 The Royal Society for Public Health.