In South Africa, young people's sexual relationships are often underpinned by an economic exchange: gifts or favours for sex. Studies have pointed out the negative consequences of the exchanges that are often characterized by large age differences or power imbalances. Perhaps more pervasive but largely ignored, gift giving in like-age relationships may also be associated with sexual leverage, an exchange which somehow entitles one partner physical and sexual rights to the other's body. The circumstances surrounding gifts and favours may shape young women and men's sexual experiences, their ability to negotiate the circumstances of those encounters, and the possibility of concluding or remoulding a relationship into another form. Using focus group discussions collected in the Durban metropolitan area among young people aged 14-22, this paper examines the economic context of gift giving or receiving and its relationship to patterns of risky sexual behaviour. Findings suggest that gift giving among like-age adolescents is common and important in shaping sexual relationships. Young people associate money or cash with prostitution, but do not consider gifts as such. Types of gifts and their meaning varied considerably by racial group and by gender.