English: In 2010 the national government actively considered the introduction of a regional development fund to support the objectives of regional development in South Africa. Against this backdrop, this article critically reviews the historical application of regional incentives under apartheid and the recent international application of regional development funds. It is argued that a narrow focus on regional incentive funds represents an element of the 'old' paradigm of regional theory and regional development practices. In addressing the widening imbalances that exist in the space economy of contemporary South Africa it is prudent to link the application of 'regional development funds' to the modern paradigm of regional development planning. Within this framework, the regional development fund is no longer simply an enterprise-oriented fund centred on manufacturing. Instead, the regional fund is re-defined as a channel for supporting wider comprehensive interventions across multiple sectors and targeted to build regional competitiveness.