Public-private partnerships (PPPs) are a contracting model that can help governments leverage the financial and technical capabilities of private sector partners to address urgent service and infrastructure needs. This model attempts to align the incentives of public and private sector entities and improve the quality of service delivery through long-term contracts that facilitate risk sharing and link payment to performance. PPP projects can, if well designed and implemented, lead to a range of beneficial outcomes, boosting equitable and efficient access to quality public health services. However, none of these benefits are guaranteed, and realizing them depends on many factors including strong public procurement and management systems, reliable data to estimate costs and benefits, and transparent and efficient dispute resolution processes. This brief provides an introduction to urban leaders in developing countries on using PPPs to advance public health goals. The brief (1) describes what the PPP model is in relation to other options; (2) reviews the literature on benefits and challenges; and (3) explores whether and how PPPs might be used to advance urban health. This primer is accompanied by a second brief which provides guidance for local leaders on developing PPP portfolios and reviews the PPP landscape in three cities.