The meaning and identification of poverty are examined using three indicators of standard of living in the North Indian village of Palanpur. The first is intended as a measure of "apparent prosperity" based on the personal assessments of investigators after intensive field work in the village over the full agricultural year 1983-84. The other two are income in 1983-84, and a measure of permanent income obtained by averaging incomes from four surveys conducted over a twenty-six-year interval. A comparison of these three indicators shows that income measured in any one year may give a misleading impression of the incidence of poverty. The risk of poverty for households is calculated. Vulnerability is high among low-caste households and those which are involved in agricultural labor. Categories, however, are not homogeneous; for example, whereas the landless and widows are more likely to be poor, some of such households are quite well off. It is argued that poverty in a good agricultural year is a better indicator of sustained poverty than poverty in a bad year. Occupational mobility out of agricultural labor is low, and changes in the distribution of land are largely accounted for by demographic processes such as household splits.