CONTEXT:: Interventions aimed at adolescents need to be culturally specific. The dearth of data on Asian American adolescents has made it difficult to meet their needs.

METHODS:: Data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health were used, with a sample of 323 Asian American female adolescents and 366 Asian American male adolescents. Logistic regression analysis was used to assess the association between acculturation at Wave 1 (1995) and sexual experience at Wave 2 (1996), controlling for demographic, psychosocial and family variables.

RESULTS:: Overall, 24% of young women and 20% of young men had had sexual intercourse. Among young women, the most acculturated were more likely to have had sexual intercourse than the least acculturated (odds ratio, 4.9); acculturation was not associated with sexual intercourse for young men. Medium and high levels of parental attachment were associated with decreased odds of sexual experience for young women (0.4 and 0.2), but not for young men. Binge drinking was associated with an increased risk of sexual experience for young women (6.4), and tobacco use was associated with increased risk for young men (3.0).

CONCLUSIONS: Like all adolescents, Asian Americans are at high risk for the consequences of sexual activity. For this fast-growing population, there is a crucial need for preventive programs that are culturally sensitive, inclusive of family and gender-specific.