Despite increasing evidence showing the benefits language teachers can reap from university–school collaborative action research (CAR), scant attention has been given to how university researchers collaborate with language teachers, what challenges they might encounter, and how they navigate such challenges in CAR. To fill the gap, this study examines three university teacher educators/researchers’ professional experiences in different CAR projects in China. The findings demonstrate that the research participants experienced three major challenges in CAR projects. In order to cope with these difficulties, while the researchers and teachers engaged in continuous negotiation about each other’s needs, the researchers also helped the teachers develop their reflective abilities and promote the influence of their action research. This study has implications for how the effectiveness of CAR may be enhanced to facilitate the sustainable professional development of language teachers. Copyright © 2016 The Author.