Rapid changes in China over the past two decades have led to significant problems associated with population migration and changing social attitudes, including a growing sex industry and concurrent increases in STIs and HIV. This article reports results of an exploratory study of microbicide acceptability and readiness and current HIV prevention efforts among female sex workers in two rural and one urban town in Hainan and Guangxi Provinces in southern China. The study focused on these women's knowledge and cultural understandings of options for protecting themselves from exposure to STIs and HIV, and the potential viability and acceptability of woman-initiated prevention methods. We report on ethnographic elicitation interviews conducted with women working within informal sex-work establishments (hotels, massage and beauty parlors, roadside restaurants, boarding houses). We discuss implications of these findings for further promotion of woman-initiated prevention methods such as microbicides and female condoms among female sex workers in China.