Controlling deforestation in Brazil's Amazon region has long been illusive despite repeated efforts of government authorities to slow the process. From 1997 to 2000, deforestation rates in Brazil's 9-state "Legal Amazon" region continually crept upward. Now, a licensing and enforcement program for clearing by large farmers and ranchers in the state of Mato Grosso appears to be having an effect. The deforestation rate in Mato Grosso was already beginning to slacken before initiation of the program in 1999, but examination of county-level data suggests that deforestation in already heavily cleared areas was falling due to lack of suitable uncleared land, while little-cleared areas were experiencing rapid deforestation. Following initiation of the program, the clearing rates declined in the recent frontiers. Areas with greater enforcement effort also appear to have experienced greater declines. Demonstration of government ability to enforce regulations and influence trends is important to domestic and international debates regarding use of avoided deforestation to mitigate global warming.