The significance of mycorrhizas (fungal roots in 90% of land plants) in plant nutrient acquisition and growth, element biogeochemical cycling and maintaining of terrestrial ecosystem structures has been globally established for more than 120 years. Great progress in mycorrhizal research in the past 60 years (1950-2009, 1981-2009 in particular) has also been made across China, particularly in the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan. For instance, a total of 20 new and ~120 records of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungal species, 30 new and ~800 records of ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungal species, a dozen of new and ~100 records of orchid mycorrhizal (OM) fungal species have been isolated by morphological observation and/or molecular identification in China since the 1950s. Great accomplishment has also been made in the following area, including fungal species richness and genetic structure, relationships between species composition and plant taxa, effects of mycorrhizal fungi on plant nutrient uptake and growth, resistances to pathogens and interactions with other soil microorganisms, potential of mycorrhizal fungi in phytoremediation and/or land reclamation, alterations of enzymatic activities in mycorrhizal plants, and elevated CO2 and O3 on root colonization and species diversity. Unfortunately, the international community cannot easily appreciate almost all Chinese mycorrhizal studies since the vast majority of them have been published in Chinese and/or in China-based journals. The aim of this review is to make a comprehensive exposure of the past and present China's major mycorrhizal research to the whole world, and then to suggest potential directions for the enhancement of future mycorrhizal research within and/or between the Chinese and international mycorrhizal community. © 2010 Science China Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.