The article evaluates the extent to which Brazil's foreign policy actions, negotiating positions and diplomatic strategies in global governance institutions contribute to supporting its national interest and foreign policy aims. It compares Brazil's preferences and behaviour in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Group of 20 (G20). For decades, Brazil's primary national interest has been national economic development. The article argues that Brazil is moving from a material interests based definition of its prime national interest to a more complex one that includes both material and prestige/status based aspects. Research demonstrates that Brazil has become increasingly focused on gaining recognition as a leader of developing countries, sometimes even at the cost of realising its full material interests. It considers the value of constructivist international relations theory to understanding Brazilian foreign policy.