This paper looks at the process of lahour market reform in Greece since 1997, focusing in particular on the 2000 reform initiative launched by the then Socialist (PASOK) government. Despite powerful external and domestic pressures for change, the proposed labour market reform was eventually severely compromised following much acrimony between the government and the social partners. The aim of this article is to look at how this failure of initiative and response came about. In doing so, the article places its empirical analysis into a game theoretic framework that seeks to reveal both the structural characteristics of the '2000 lahour market reform' game and the strategies followed by its main protagonists. Reference will also be made to actors' low trust and the failure of a 'winning' package deal to emerge. These, it will he argued, produced powerful blocks to reform and eventually transformed the 2000 reform initiative from a prisoner's dilemma to a deadlock game. © 2005 Taylor & Francis Group Ltd.