Various programmes and strategies in South Africa aim to reduce poverty. The Integrated Sustainable Rural Development Programme (ISRDP) is a sustained campaign against rural poverty and underdevelopment, implemented in 13 nodes selected on account of their poverty, lack of infrastructure and capacity, and provincial representivity. Using a hierarchy of development regions, data from the 2001 Census and a core-periphery model, this paper evaluates the location of the 13 nodes to determine whether the municipalities in these nodes have high levels of poverty and are in need of development. The findings are that although most of these municipalities have high poverty levels, the nodes also include municipalities with relatively high levels of development. There are also 17 municipalities in South Africa with very low levels of development that are not included as nodes in the ISRDP. Policy-makers need to take cognisance of the macro pattern of spatial economic development.