This research considers information systems development (ISD) projects as complex adaptive systems. We investigate the question whether complex adaptive systems (CAS) theory is relevant as a theoretical foundation for understanding ISD, and if so, which kind of understanding can be achieved by utilizing the theory? We introduce key concepts of CAS theory such as interaction, emergence, interconnected autonomous agents, self-organization, co-evolution, poise at the edge of chaos, time pacing, and poise at the edge of time to analyse and understand ISD in practice. We demonstrate the strength of such a CAS approach through an empirical case study presentation and analysis. While our work contributes to a complexity theory of ISD, the case examination also provides practical advice derived from this perspective to successfully cope with complexity in ISD in an adaptive manner.