BACKGROUND There have been no clinical reports on clear cell tumor of the lung (CCTL) based on large studies or epidemiological surveys in the literature. The purpose of this study was to provide a retrospective analysis of CCTL patients in China by reviewing the clinical data of reported CCTL cases. METHODS The China academic journals full-text database search engines were used to collect the related cases from January 1979 to June 2011. The analysis was performed on patients' age, gender, symptom, nodular number, tumor size, lesion localization, chest radiograph or chest computed tomography. RESULTS Thirty-nine cases of CCTL were reported in China. The ratio of male:female was 1.29:1. The average age at diagnosis was 43 ± 17 years. Most of them were accidentally discovered on routine chest roentgenogram or computed tomography. The ratio of asymptomatic:symptomatic was 2.25:1 (27:12). Cough, fever, sputum, dyspnea and chest pain occurred frequently in symptomatic patients. Solitary pulmonary nodule on chest radiography was found in 38 patients, and no specific lobar distribution had been noted. The average tumor size was 3.6 ± 2.4 cm in diameter. All patients were diagnosed after thoracotomy, and the postoperative courses were all uneventful. CONCLUSIONS CCTL is a rare benign tumor with special features of clinical characteristics, radiology and pathology. The diagnosis is based on distinct pathological characteristics. Earlier operation with long-term follow-up is recommended.