Can we find traditional periodic markets in the milieu of market activity that abounds in contemporary China today? As reform is transforming the rural economy, is periodic markets activity being intensified or undermined? What factors account for the evolution of China's rural markets? The goal of this paper is to provide answers to some of these questions. In one sense, the study seeks to add to Skinner's seminal work by analyzing a set of primary data collected by the authors on periodic markets in today's rural China. The paper subjects a number of Skinner's pre-dictions to quantitative testing, and updates his theory to account for institutional peculiarities in the contemporary period. In another sense, however, our study stands on its own. We make an inquiry into the characteristics of rural market emergence in contemporary China, seeking to untangle the determinants of the rise and decline of market activity.