Little is known about the demographic and clinical differences between short and long duration of untreated bipolar disorder (DUB) in Chinese patients. This study examined the demographic and clinical features of short (≤2 years) and long DUB (>2 years) in China. A consecutively recruited sample of 555 patients with bipolar disorder (BD) was examined in 7 psychiatric hospitals and general hospital psychiatric units across China. Patients' demographic and clinical characteristics were collected using a standardized protocol and data collection procedure. The mean DUB was 3.2 ± 6.0 years; long DUB accounted for 31.0% of the sample. Multivariate analyses revealed that longer duration of illness, diagnosis of BD type II, and earlier misdiagnosis of BD for major depressive disorder or schizophrenia were independently associated with long DUB. The mean DUB in Chinese BD patients was shorter than the reported figures from Western countries. The long-term impact of DUB on the outcome of BD is warranted.