"This paper deals with national systems of innovation (NSIs) from a Latin American perspective. It begins by looking into the related conceptualization elaborated in the North with a "Southern head", stressing some characteristics of the NSIs concept that are helpful to understand Southern specificity: its ex-post nature, the normative weight it carries, its "relational" features, the fact that it describes a purposeful policy subject and not only an outcome of evolutionary patterns. Then the paper describes some contextual differences between Latin America and the developed nations in terms of the NSIs conceptualization. This is followed by an abbreviated account of empirical findings gathered from recent innovation industrial surveys in Latin America. It also briefly describes some of the findings of a methodological attempt to construct a picture of the NSI in a small Latin American country, Uruguay. Finally, some lessons stemming from more mature systems of innovation are outlined."