International peacebuilding is experiencing a pragmatic turn. The era of liberal idealism is waning, and in its place new approaches to peacebuilding are emerging. This article identifies one such emerging approach, gives it a name—adaptive peacebuilding—and explores what it may be able to offer peacebuilding once it is more fully developed. It builds on the knowledge generated in the fields of complexity, resilience and local ownership, and may help inform the implementation of the emerging UN concept of sustaining peace. It is an alternative to the determined-design neo-liberal approach that has dominated peacebuilding over the past three decades. It represents an approach where peacebuilders, working closely together with the communities and people affected by conflict, actively engage in structured processes to sustain peace by using an inductive methodology of iterative learning and adaptation. The adaptive peacebuilding approach embraces uncertainty, focuses on processes rather than end-states, and invests in the resilience of local and national institutions to promote change.