This Health Policy paper presents purposively selected case studies to illustrate the essential characteristics of implementation research and its application in low-income and middle-income countries. The case studies are organised into four categories related to the purposes of using implementation research, including improving people's health, informing policy design and implementation, strengthening health service delivery, and empowering communities and beneficiaries. Each of the case studies addresses implementation problems, involves partnerships to co-create solutions, uses tacit knowledge and research, and is based on a shared commitment towards improving health outcomes. The case studies reveal the complex adaptive nature of health systems, emphasise the importance of understanding context, and highlight the role of multidisciplinary, rigorous, and adaptive processes that allow for course correction to ensure interventions have an impact. This Health Policy paper is part of a call to action to increase the use of implementation research in global health, build the field of implementation research inclusive of research utilisation efforts, and accelerate efforts to bridge the gap between research, policy, and practice to improve health outcomes.