How may environmental regulation affect firm location choice? While this question has generated great research interest from high-standard, industrial economies, in this article we turn the spotlight to low-standard, developing countries and use China’s Census of Manufactures data during 2003–2008 to explore how firms with different ownership, during different policy regimes as well as from different industries may respond to environmental regulations in different ways. Results show environmental stringency has a positive effect on state-owned enterprises’ location choice during 2003–2005, but the effect becomes insignificant during 2006–2008. Private-owned enterprises, foreign-owned enterprises and collective-owned enterprises are more likely to enter areas with less stringent environmental regulations during 2003–2005. However, this pattern is reversed for the period of 2006–2008. Furthermore, the above relationships are more pronounced for firms in polluting industries.