This essay examines relations between eastern Africa and western India in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries in respect to two related sets of problems: the changing regimes of commercial circulation, and more particularly the evolution of patterns of human movement, notably via the slave trade from Ethiopia and the Swahili coast to Gujarat and the Deccan. It argues that over the course of the sixteenth century, commercial relations between Deccan ports such as Goa and Chaul, and the Swahili coast, came to be strengthened through the intervention of the Portuguese and their military-commercial system. At the same time, large numbers of African slaves reached the Muslim states in India, especially in the period after 1530, where they played a significant role as military specialists, and eventually as elite political and cultural actors. The shifting geographical dimensions of the African presence in India are emphasized, beginning in western Gujarat and winding up in the Deccan Sultanates. This contrasts markedly with the African experience elsewhere, where the meaning and institutional context of slavery were quite different.