Along with its economic reform, China has experienced a rapid urbanization. This study identified the urban sprawl patterns in China using high-resolution Landsat Thematic Mapper and Enhanced Thematic Mapper data of 1989/1990 and 1999/2000, and analyzed the sprawl patterns during 1990-2000. Our results show that China’s urban land increased by 817 million hectares. It was also found that China’s urban sprawl had high spatial differences: such four sprawl patterns as concentric, leapfrog, linear and multi-nuclei, and their combinations coexisted. Case studies of the thirteen super cities showed that urban sprawl had been largely driven by demographic change, economic growth, and changes in land use policies and regulations.