Recruiting African Americans for research participation is a recognized challenge. The aim of the Jackson Heart Study (JHS) is to recruit and retain 6,500 African-American participants to examine the risk factors and causes of heart disease in this ethnic group. A multi-method Participant Recruitment and Retention Study was conducted prior to initiating the JHS as a basis for designing a culture-specific plan for recruitment, retention, and adherence of participants. Probability and purposive sampling were used to select African-American adults aged 35-84 from the Jackson area. Data were collected using a structured survey (N=125) and in-depth interviews (N=31 individual; 10 group). Data were analyzed and interpreted using inferential statistics and interpretive phenomenology to identify participatory barriers and facilitators, and to uncover the meaning of taking part in research. Findings generated an emerging Community-Driven Model, which has potential to enlighten researchers about effective strategies for recruiting and retaining African Americans for research participation.