There is growing concern about the high level of HIV infection among young people in South Africa. The aim of the study is to examine the HIV protective strategies used by college students with specific emphasis on variations by race group. The data for the study come from a self-administrated survey that was conducted with 3 000 college students in Durban in order to understand the strategies they use to protect themselves against the risk of HIV infection. Overall, students perceived a far greater risk of pregnancy than HIV infection. The results show that abstinence is the most common protective factor among Indian and White students. Among African students, there is great concern about HIV but abstinence is less common. Among sexually active men and women, the majority report having more than one sexual partner (with the exception of Indian females). Female students among all groups were more likely than male students to report that they were faithful to their partners. In Africans the contrast is stark: 25% for women versus 6% for men. Condoms are the most commonly used method by students but are not used in every sexual encounter. Consistent condom use was highest among Indian males (46%) and lowest among White females (13.7%). More effort needs to be directed at promoting correct and consistent condom use in order to avoid the negative consequences associated with unprotected sexual intercourse including unwanted pregnancy and HIV/AIDS.