A partnership was formed between a mass youth organization, a national HIV coordinating committee, and an international agency, to implement an HIV capacity building project in the youth sector of Lao PDR. Involving the local community in situation analysis, planning and skills-building was a key focus of the project. District project working teams were trained in situation analysis, strategic planning, proposal development, and the implementation of HIV prevention activities. Young village volunteers were trained in participatory research, analysis, and behaviour change communication to promote HIV prevention. After 6 years, the partnership used qualitative methods to evaluate the local outcomes of the project. We found that district project working teams and young volunteers had improved skills in the areas in which they had been trained. Communities and local government workers had developed greater understanding of the HIV situation in their districts, and expressed a strong sense of ownership over their activity plans. Young people more readily acknowledged personal risk of HIV infection and were more comfortable talking about sexually transmitted infections. Although there were challenges to sustaining project activities in some areas, we found that our approach helped to engage youth and build their resilience to HIV in this country of low prevalence.