Action research methodology is commonly used in initial teacher education programmes as a pedagogical strategy to enhance student teacher learning. Action research is most often used in tandem with school-based practicum components in the latter stage of programmes as a means of bridging the theory-practice divide. It is also frequently used as a capstone assessment to assure prospective teacher capability for reflective inquiry. The study reported here focuses on the perspectives of teachers who were recent graduates of two initial English language teacher education programmes in Chile, who had undertaken action research projects as part of their degree programme. It also engaged the university-based supervisors who had overseen this work. These experiences are analysed in the context of the guiding epistemological and political foundations of action research. The outcomes of this research suggest that the use of action research in initial teacher education contexts may be more problematic than it is often assumed; particularly, where student teachers’ work is professionally isolated. From this, it is suggested that action research in initial teacher education needs to be conscious of potential constraints in school-based contexts, as these may act to limit the current and prospective impact of this learning experience.