Between the end of the II World War and the beginning of the '50s the industrial regions of Italy witnessed one of the most significant experience of workers participation in the enterprise: the Consigli di gestione (a sort of workers-management councils). Their short and tumultuous existence was greatly affected by the though conflict - with the involvement of the main social and political forces - on both the nature of the enterprise and the role that the workers can play within it. In this article, the Author highlights the salient points of that event, to emphasize the conflicting dynamics in which the working class, its political and union organizations and employers defined - not without great contradictions - their ideologies and strategic action. Some of the main constitutional and specific aspects of the Italian industrial relation system were built up around the historical experience of the Consigli di gestione. Therefore, it is not by chance that their importance has influenced subsequent decades, conditioning the theoretical and political evolution of the dispute about industrial democracy during the whole period of the Fordist development of the Italian enterprise.