A method for enhancing the quality of teaching and learning is through encouraging academics to engage in action research projects into some aspect of their teaching which is of interest or problematic for them. Action research is promoted as a means for committed teachers to bridge the gap between their theories and practice. However, groups of teachers, fresh to such ideas and methods, may need help to get their projects started and advice on how to proceed afterwards. ‘Critical friends’ are people recommended by Stenhouse (1975) to take up this pro-active role through the building and maintenance of a partner relationship with the academics throughout their projects. This article discusses the role of the critical friend performed by the co-ordinating team of the Action Learning Project in supporting educational action research projects in Hong Kong. Important facets of such a role include the: financier, project design consultant, rapport builder, coffee maker, mirror, teaching consultant, evaluation advisor, research advisor, resource provider, writing consultant, match maker and deadline enforcer. Copyright © 1997 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.