Numerous epidemiological and biological studies report male circumcision (MC) to have a significant protective effect against HIV-1 acquisition. This study assesses the acceptability of MC in four districts in Malawi, a country with high HIV-1 prevalence and low prevalence of MC. Thirty-two focus group discussions were conducted with 159 men and 159 women ages 16-80 years. Acceptability was lower in the north where the practice was little known, higher in younger participants and higher in central and southern districts where MC is practiced by a minority Muslim group (Yao). Barriers to circumcision included fear of infection and bleeding, cost, and pain. Facilitators included hygiene, reduced risk of STI, religion, medical conditions, and enhanced sexual pleasure. If MC services are introduced in Malawi, acceptance is likely to vary by region, but many parents and young men would use the services if they were safe, affordable and confidential.