Performance-based incentives (PBI) are commonly used as a financial measure to improve health service provision, either by targeting service outputs (e.g. number of patients seen) or service content or quality (e.g. number of patients treated according to protocol, availability of essential service inputs). Effects of PBI programs on service provision differ depending on initial service performance, health worker and facility capacities, PBI design and reward size, and other contextual factors. This brief provides a summary of the effects of a set of performance incentives used in Malawi on the quality of a range of essential health services (maternal and newborn care, child health, HIV/AIDS).