This research is based on structured interviews, semi-structured interviews, and informal firsthand observation of women residents of Washington, DC who used crack and/or injected drugs during the previous 30 days. The study entailed introducing these women to the female condom, exposing them to an HIV risk reduction intervention teaching them how to use it and how to negotiate its use with their sexual partner(s). Women were tested for HIV and asked to return one week later for their results. They were asked to try the female condom within that first week. Upon returning for their tests results, ethnographers discussed with them their experiences with the female condom. They were reinterviewed for follow-up three months later to assess changes in behavior from baseline as well as their longer term experiences with and opinions of the female condom. The data presented in this paper are based on the interviews conducted one week after baseline. Of particular interest and concern to this research were: women's perceptions of the female condom prior to and subsequent to using it, women's partners' perceptions of the female condom after being introduced to it, and potential barriers to use. In all, 131 women, mostly African-American, took part in this study, which was conducted during the winter of 1997-1998.