The successful implementation of new public health policy is influenced by provider preparedness and user acceptability of the new intervention. This paper describes the development and implementation of a participatory Training of Trainers (TOT) programme as a precursor to launch the South African government's female-initiated HIV prevention strategies in public health clinics. Three hundred peer-trainees from throughout South Africa were trained through a comprehensive, modular and interactive three-day workshop. The workshop content included: HIV/AIDS knowledge, beliefs and attitudes; values clarification regarding HIV infection and sexuality; sexual desensitization; 'hands-on' training in the use of and introduction of the female condom; and counselling, communication and programme planning skills. The TOT generated a cadre of knowledgeable health care workers for training others and provided a support structure at the service delivery level for ensuring potential users' access to the female condom within each province. Qualitative assessments of the training and trainer debriefing sessions suggest that the training was successful in increasing knowledge and promoting positive attitudes about female condoms. In addition, the expanded repertoire of problem-solving approaches left providers feeling confident about recommending this method to clients.