This paper makes the case for adult literacy (including numeracy) practitioners to play a greater role in health literacy initiatives in Australia. The paper draws on data from a national research project that investigated adult literacy partnerships and pedagogy viewed from a social capital perspective. The primary purpose of the project was to produce guidelines on how to deliver integrated adult literacy and numeracy programmes using a social capital approach. Prior experience of partnerships was explored through a review of the literature and an environmental scan of adult literacy providers using an email survey and follow-up interviews. An in-depth case study of a health literacy partnership was trialled using action research. Partnerships between adult literacy and health organisations in Australia were found to be largely ad hoc and rarely documented. To enable sustainable health literacy programmes, partnerships are needed across the three interlinked organisational levels - micro, meso and macro, and in particular the latter, which is currently almost completely absent. The conceptual frameworks outlined for health literacy partnerships and social capital pedagogy in this paper are new and potentially of value to policy makers, researchers and practitioners in the fields of health and literacy.