Following a critical review of current literature on the role of line managers in career development, the article reports on research which examined the extent to which employee participation in voluntary career activities is affected by differing levels of management support. Using data from 281 service company employees, this longitudinal study investigated the relationship between three variables - management attitudes towards career development, management support for voluntary career development interventions and employee career satisfaction - in relation to participation in a career programme. The results revealed that, counter to that predicted by the literature, high levels of management support did not encourage greater participation by employees, while negative management attitudes did. Career satisfaction was also shown to be significantly correlated to both management support and management attitudes. The consequences for practitioners designing and implementing career development programmes are highlighted.