We identified the first set of microsatellites for use in the rock firefinch (Lagonosticta sanguinodorsalis). First, we tested existing passerine microsatellite loci for cross-species amplification success in a small sample of rock firefinches and identified 10 loci that were seemingly polymorphic and easy to score. Secondly, we developed and characterized three microsatellite loci de novo from the rock firefinch genome. In a larger sample of individuals from three populations, one locus initially interpreted as polymorphic was monomorphic. Among the polymorphic loci, the number of alleles ranged between 2 and 15 and the expected heterozygosity between 0.08 and 0.91 within populations. Two loci had high estimated null allele frequency in at least one population. The microsatellites amplified very well (80% success) in five other African finch species and each locus was confirmed as polymorphic in at least one species. We conclude that these microsatellite markers will be useful for population genetic studies in the rock firefinch and other closely related African finches.