• early sex;
  • predictors;
  • females

This study examined the extent to which problem solving, self-image, and other health-related factors predict age at first intercourse among Black and White adolescent females. The volunteer sample was 16 to 19 years old; 52% were Black (n=105), and 48% (n=97) were White. Adolescents were recruited from family planning clinics throughout South Carolina. Stratified analyses identified race as a modifier of the relationship between problem solving and time of first intercourse (early or delayed). Logistic regression revealed three predictors of early age at first intercourse in Black girls, but only one predictor in White girls. There were no race differentials in either age or the proportion of girls initiating early intercourse. However, Black girls who had less problem solving skill than their peers were five times more likely to have early intercourse, three times more likely to practice fewer health-promoting behaviors, and seven times more likely to have 10 or fewer years of education. Early intercourse was significantly associated with unprotected first intercourse. Our findings suggest that interventions may need to be tailored for different risk groups within Black populations of adolescent girls.