The purpose of this article is to examine focus groups as a qualitative research method. We describe and evaluate the use of focus groups based on three separate research projects: a study of teachers, parents, and children at two urban daycare centers; a study of the responses of second-generation Muslim Americans to the events of September 11; and a collaborative project on the experiences of children and youth following Hurricane Katrina. By examining three different projects, we are able to assess some of the strengths and challenges of the focus group as a research method. In addition, we analyze the design and implementation of focus groups, including information on participant recruitment, the most effective group size, group composition and issues of segmentation, how to carry out focus groups, and the ideal number of groups to conduct. We pay particular attention to the ways in which focus groups may serve a social support or empowerment function, and our research points to the strength of using this method with marginalized, stigmatized, or vulnerable individuals.