Young men who have sex with men (YMSM) are increasingly using mobile smartphone applications (“apps”), such as Grindr, to meet sex partners. A probability sample of 195 Grindr-using YMSM in Southern California were administered an anonymous online survey to assess patterns of and motivations for Grindr use in order to inform development and tailoring of smartphone-based HIV prevention for YMSM. The number one reason for using Grindr (29 %) was to meet “hook ups.” Among those participants who used both Grindr and online dating sites, a statistically significantly greater percentage used online dating sites for “hook ups” (42 %) compared to Grindr (30 %). Seventy percent of YMSM expressed a willingness to participate in a smartphone app-based HIV prevention program. Development and testing of smartphone apps for HIV prevention delivery has the potential to engage YMSM in HIV prevention programming, which can be tailored based on use patterns and motivations for use.