Global health financing has increased dramatically in recent years, indicative of a rise in health as a foreign policy issue. Several governments have issued specific foreign policy statements on global health and a new term, global health diplomacy, has been coined to describe the processes by which state and non-state actors engage to position health issues more prominently in foreign policy decision-making. Their ability to do so is important to advancing international cooperation in health. But what are the arguments for health in foreign policy that might inform efforts of global health diplomacy? And what arguments prevail in actual state decision-making? These questions are addressed through analyses of policy documents and academic literature pertinent to health and foreign policy; and research involving different stakeholders in different countries attempting to move health higher up foreign policy agendas.