The I-district effect hypothesis establishes the existence of highly intense innovation in Marshallian industrial districts due to the presence of external localization economies. However, industrial districts are characterized by specific manufacturing specializations in such a way that this effect could be due to these dominant specializations. The objective of this research is to test whether the effect is explained by the conditions of the territory or by the industrial specialization and to provide additional evidence of the existence and causes of the highly intense innovation in industrial districts (I-district effect). The estimates for Spain of a fixed-effects model interacting territory and industry suggest that the high innovative performance of industrial districts is maintained across sectors, whereas the industrial specialization behaves differently depending on the type of the local production system in which it is placed. The I-district effect is related to the conditions of the territory more than to the industrial specialization. The territory is a key variable in explaining the processes of innovation and should be considered a basic dimension in the design of innovation and industrial policies. © 2010 Taylor & Francis.