What is ‘translation’, and how might it help us think differently about knowledge transfer and exchange? The purpose of this article is to set out, for policy makers and practitioners, the theoretical and conceptual resources that translation holds and seems to represent. It begins by recasting research, policy and practice themselves as instances of translation. It explores understandings of translation in literature and linguistics and in the sociology of science and technology, developing them in respect of a brief case study of the seminal women’s health text, Our bodies, ourselves. In concluding, it picks up key themes of uncertainty, practice and complexity.