Background: Investigation of allele and genotype frequencies of microsatellite loci in various populations is an essential pre-requisite in forensic application. Aim: The present study obtained population genetic data and forensic parameters of 39 autosomal Short Tandem Repeats (STRs) loci from a Chinese Li ethnic group and estimated the genetic relationships between Li and other reference populations. Subjects and methods: Thirty-nine STR loci, which include D19S433, D5S818, D21S11, D18S51, D6S1043, D3S1358, D13S317, D7S820, D16S539, CSF1PO, Penta D, D2S441, vWA, D8S1179, TPOX, Penta E, TH01, D12S391, D2S1338, FGA, D6S477, D18S535, D19S253, D15S659, D11S2368, D20S470, D1S1656, D22-GATA198B05, D8S1132, D4S2366, D21S1270, D13S325, D9S925, D3S3045, D14S608, D10S1435, D7S3048, D17S1290 and D5S2500, were amplified in two multiplex DNA-STR fluorescence detection systems for 189 unrelated healthy individuals of the Chinese Li ethnic group. The allele frequency distribution and several parameters commonly used in forensic science were statistically analysed. Results: A total of 378 alleles were observed with corresponding allelic frequencies ranging from 0.0026-0.5899. The power of discrimination and power of exclusion ranged from 0.7569-0.9672 and 0.2513-0.7355, respectively. The power of exclusion (PE) ranged from 0.2580-0.7943 for trio paternity cases and 0.1693-0.5940 for duo paternity cases. The polymorphism information content (PIC) ranged from 0.5001-0.8611. The cumulative match probability across these 39 loci was 2.4242x10(-38). Conclusion: The results indicate that 39 STR loci are polymorphic among the Li ethnic group in Hainan Island in the South China Sea. This set of polymorphic STR loci provide highly polymorphic information and forensic efficiency for forensic individual identification and paternity testing, as well as basic population data for population genetics and anthropological research.