Despite federal recommendations highlighting the need to include special population groups (mainly minorities and women) in clinical research, recruitment and retention of these groups present a great challenge to researchers. This paper describes a focus group study that was conducted to examine factors related to minority participation and retention in cancer clinical research studies. In 1996, the National Cancer Institute submitted a request for applicants to receive support for regional conferences. The purpose of the proposed conferences was to share current information and strategies to aid cancer clinical investigators in recruiting and retaining minority participants in clinical cancer research and to stimulate local/regional adaptations of these strategies. The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), The University of Alabama, and Tuskegee University collaborated to respond to the request. Funding was granted by NCI for the regional conference in Alabama. The conference was held in Tuskegee, Alabama, the site of the infamous US Public Health Syphilis Study at Tuskegee. In planning for the conference, focus group sessions were conducted with African-American men and women who represented all regions of Alabama. The focus group information was used to identify important issues to be addressed at the conference.