Abstract This study estimates the effect of economic conditions on redistributive conflict. We examine land invasions in Brazil using a panel data set with over 50,000 municipality-year observations. Adverse economic shocks, instrumented by rainfall, cause the rural poor to invade and occupy large landholdings. This effect exhibits substantial heterogeneity by land inequality and land tenure systems, but not by other observable variables. In highly unequal municipalities, negative income shocks cause twice as many land invasions as in municipalities with average land inequality. Cross-sectional estimates using fine within-region variation also suggest the importance of land inequality in explaining redistributive conflict.