Research on the eastern rim of the Tibetan Plateau is generally hampered by the lack of established chronologies. The mountains of southwest China in particular are not very well explored. As a point of intersection of various culture-geographic regions and of long-distance exchange networks, the Liangshan region in southwest Sichuan deserves special attention. Unfortunately, this area is usually excluded from studies into the prehistory of southwest China, chiefly because the archaeological material is remarkably heterogeneous and the local prehistoric cultural sequence therefore has long remained obscure. Based on the results of excavations and survey work conducted during recent decades, this article represents a first attempt to suggest a chronological scheme for southwest China and neighboring parts of Yunnan from the earliest evidence of human occupation around 3000 b.c. to the onset of large-scale Han influence around a.d. 100. Additionally, the article reconstructs processes of early cultural developments and human occupation of the southeastern rim of the Tibetan Plateau that can serve as a point of departure for future research on the prehistory of western China.