Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations (ENGOs) play a very important role in worldwide environmental protection. They are often theorized as social movement organizations, as corporatist, or as an integral part of civil society. China's ENGOs cannot be analyzed easily from any of these theoretical perspectives. Instead, this article contextualizes ENGOs within the social transformation of socialist China. By doing so, the article addresses three core questions: How can the rise of China's ENGOs be explained? Do ENGOs in China have the same functions and roles as ENGOs in industrialized countries? What is ENGOs' short-term role in transforming China?