This study assessed the effects of role models in persuasive messages about risk and social norms to increase motivation to obtain hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccination in men who have sex with men (MSM). MSM at risk for HBV in The Netherlands (N = 168) were recruited online via a range of websites and were randomly assigned to one of four conditions in a 2 (risk communication: yes and no) × 2 (social norms communication: yes and no) factorial design. In each condition, participants subsequently provided self-completed assessments of their perceived risk of HBV infection, perceived social norms regarding HBV vaccination and their intention to obtain vaccination against HBV. Risk communication and social norms communication that used social role models were effective in significantly increasing men's intention to obtain vaccination against HBV. No additive effect was found for a combined message. Mediation analyses showed that communications influenced intention via perceived risk and social norms. Findings extend previous theorizing and research and show that both role model-based risk communication and social norms communication can be effective in increasing intentions to obtain HBV vaccination in MSM. This knowledge contributes to the development of effective health promotion to increase HBV vaccination in MSM. © The Author 2010.