Can research on empowerment be in itself empowering to those that take part in it? If so, how might that research be constructed and conducted, and what kind of empowerment might researchers and research participants experience? This article explores a series of research initiatives in Salvador, Brazil, that sought to integrate transformative feminist principles into the study of women's empowerment as part of an international research programme involving researchers from Latin America, the Middle East, South Asia, West Africa, the UK and the USA. We reflect on debates about epistemology and methodology that gave rise to the design of these projects and on the research journeys that these designs brought into being. Contrasting research projects with very different foci, methodologies and participants, the article explores insights from these initiatives for feminist research on empowerment.