The financial sector plays an important intermediary role in the Chinese economy. However, there has been very limited research concerning improvement in corporate governance within this sector. Using an unbalanced data set of 139 firm-year observations covering 1999 to 2009, this study examines the impact of internal governance mechanisms on the performance of Chinese listed financial institutions. Findings suggest that state ownership, legal person ownership, board size, and supervisory board meetings are negatively related to the profitability of these institutions, whereas factors including ownership concentration, foreign ownership, independent directors, board meetings, and supervisory board size have no impacts. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.