Expansion of the cattle and soy industries in the Amazon basin has increased deforestation rates and will soon push all-weather highways into the region's core. In the face of this growing pressure, a comprehensive conservation strategy for the Amazon basin should protect its watersheds, the full range of species and ecosystem diversity, and the stability of regional climates. Here we report that protected areas in the Amazon basin--the central feature of prevailing conservation approaches--are an important but insufficient component of this strategy, based on policy-sensitive simulations of future deforestation. By 2050, current trends in agricultural expansion will eliminate a total of 40% of Amazon forests, including at least two-thirds of the forest cover of six major watersheds and 12 ecoregions, releasing 32 +/- 8 Pg of carbon to the atmosphere. One-quarter of the 382 mammalian species examined will lose more than 40% of the forest within their Amazon ranges. Although an expanded and enforced network of protected areas could avoid as much as one-third of this projected forest loss, conservation on private lands is also essential. Expanding market pressures for sound land management and prevention of forest clearing on lands unsuitable for agriculture are critical ingredients of a strategy for comprehensive conservation.