Migration from Zimbabwe to South Africa has been extremely well-documented by researchers. In this paper, we suggest that there is a need to periodize these migration flows in order to understand how and why they have changed over time, not simply in terms of the volume of migration but the changing drivers of migration and the shifting nature of the migrant stream. Few previous studies have taken a longitudinal approach to Zimbabwean migration, primarily because most research takes place at one point in time. SAMP is in the fortunate position of having a large database at its disposal which allows us to compare migration from Zimbabwe at three different points in time: 1997, 2005 and 2010. Although migration from Zimbabwe since 1990 has consistently increased over time, it can be periodized into three ‘waves’ with distinctive drivers of migration, migration patterns and migrant profiles. The first wave occurred in the 1990s, the second from around 2000 to 2005 and the third in the years since. In this paper we identify continuities and shifts in migrant profiles and behaviours during each of these periods. The paper also examines contemporary migration from Zimbabwe during what we refer to as the third wave of migration.