This article explores the use of debt capital by small firms using data from the 1998 Survey of Small Business Finances. An examination of the data reveals differences in the characteristics and borrowing experience of small firms by race and ethnicity. Results indicate that although minority firm owners were just as likely to apply for loans, they were significantly less likely to be approved for them. Further, black small business owners were less likely to even bother applying for a loan, because they assumed they would be denied. These findings have implications for the ability of minority small business owners to grow their firms and contribute to the economic well-being of their communities.