Ousted President Manuel Zelaya took a symbolic step inside Honduras on Friday, but backed away from a confrontation with Honduran troops waiting to arrest him at the border.
In a move described as "reckless" by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Mr Zelaya took a step or two inside Honduran territory in the town of Las Manos on the border with Nicaragua.
He approached a chain dividing the two countries and stepped briefly over for a moment and touching a sign saying "Welcome to Honduras."
With troops standing yards away, he said he did not want to proceed further out of "respect for the principles" of the military.
The president was toppled and sent into exile on 28 June after a coup.
The de facto government that replaced him insists he was removed legally and will face charges if he returns.
Mr Zelaya previously tried to return home by plane on 5 July when his plane was prevented from landing by the military.
Talks in Costa Rica aimed at resolving the crisis have collapsed with no agreement.