© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. One conclusion from the knowledge-based view is that firms develop knowledge from experience. This paper examines the conditions under which firms’ R&D experiences might have stronger or weaker effects on innovation capabilities. We posit that any potential benefit depends on the nature of this experience. In particular, we look at how technological area experience and experience diversity affects innovation capabilities. We further propose that, in order to leverage their experience, firms need to consider how the interactions of technological area experience and experience diversity affect performance. To test this model, we draw on a data set of 3034 drug development projects undertaken by 30 large pharmaceutical companies between 1980 and 2008.