We study the impact of firm-level characteristics on the capital structures of private small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as the differences between the capital structures adopted by SMEs with single and multiple owners in China. Our findings highlight the limited use of asset-based financing by Chinese SMEs. We also find that the propensity of SMEs with single-owners to use external debt was significantly less than those with multiple owners. Furthermore, our findings suggest that single-owned firms are subject to a more constrained pecking order than those with multiple owners. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.