LEADER local action groups (LAGs) have become an integral part of the European rural landscape. Our article examines how LEADER groups operate in Hungary by analysing their territorial, symbolic and institutional shape, and the established role of LAGs in Hungary. The results reveal an irregular territorial shape combined with uncertain symbolic form. The institutional constellation is significantly influenced by the size of the member municipalities. Action groups integrating smaller local authorities must involve more NGOs and enterprises to fulfil participatory regulations. Local bureaux are small and their functions are not differentiated according to the state of development. Although Hungarian LAGs, in a European comparison, have many levels of tasks their level of governance is relatively low.