CONTEXT First Stop, an 18-month demonstration project that operated in 1996-1997, was designed to offer low-income adult women in California hormonal contraceptives without requiring a pelvic examination. METHODS An evaluation was undertaken to assess the contraceptives adopted by First Stop clients, compare health risks of these women with risks among women using traditional family planning clinics and assess clients'satisfaction. Data on 2,065 First Stop clients and 1,507 women attending traditional clinics were collected through several self- and clinician-administered instruments, including questionnaires, a telephone survey and medical chart abstractions. RESULTS After the initial First Stop visit, 38% of women adopted a more effective method than they had used at last sex, 4 7% remained with the same method, 12% switched to a less-effective method and 3% accepted no method. Of clients who were referred for additional medical care, 73% followed through on their referrals. Compared with clients at traditional clinics, First Stop clients were less likely to have a regular source of health care, but more likely to have made a health care visit in the past year. Most First Stop clients valued the project's services; 76% said it was important to be able to receive pills or injections without a pelvic examination. CONCLUSIONS Programs that provide hormonal contraceptives without requiring a pelvic examination can expand low-income women's access to these methods and improve the chances that they will obtain other reproductive health services.