The purchasing function of large firms has slowly evolved from the operational task of ordering products and services towards a strategic part of business. However, the full implications of strategic purchasing for firm innovation have yet to be explored. The contribution of this study is two-fold. First, we develop a relational view of strategic purchasing embracing both the quality of the purchasing function and the properties of its internal and external relations. Second, based on exploratory empirical analysis, we propose four patterns of the link between strategic purchasing and innovation. We find that strategic purchasing is an enabling, but not necessary, condition for a contribution of purchasing to innovation, which in turn mostly relates to the relational resources of purchasing.