To investigate the changes in community responsiveness during the pre-community-outbreak phase of the H1N1 epidemic in Hong Kong, a pooled sample of 999 adults was interviewed in three surveys (S1, S2, S3) from 7 May to 6 June 2009. Over time, fewer people felt confident in staying free from H1N1 infection in the following year (S1, 63·3%; S3, 46%; P<0·001). The level of distress due to H1N1 remained modest throughout the study period. People's confidence in the government's ability to control a large-scale H1N1 outbreak declined slightly at the third survey (S1, 80·5%; S3, 73·8%; P=0·025). Across the three surveys, respondents remained vigilant with frequent adoption of preventive measures (e.g. wearing face masks in public areas when suffering from influenza-like symptoms and frequent hand-washing). The public was generally supportive of the Hong Kong government although misconceptions regarding the disease were common. Provision of evidence-based public-health education is still warranted as the disease outbreak unfolds.