Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) has been commonly used for treating insomnia in Asian countries for centuries. The aim of this study was to conduct a large-scale pharmaco-epidemiologic study and evaluate the frequency and patterns of CHM use in treating insomnia. We obtained the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) outpatient claims from the National Health Insurance in Taiwan for the year 2002. Patients with insomnia were identified from the diagnostic code of International Classification of Disease among claimed visiting files. Corresponding prescription files were analyzed, and an association rule was applied to evaluate the co-prescription of CHM. Results showed that there were 16 134 subjects who visited TCM clinics for insomnia in Taiwan during 2002 and received a total of 29 801 CHM prescriptions. Subjects between 40 and 49 years of age comprised the largest number of those treated (25.3%). In addition, female subjects used CHMs for insomnia more frequently than male subjects (female : male = 1.94 : 1). There was an average of 4.8 items prescribed in the form of either an individual Chinese herb or formula in a single CHM prescription for insomnia. Shou-wu-teng (Polygonum multiflorum) was the most commonly prescribed single Chinese herb, while Suan-zao-ren-tang was the most commonly prescribed Chinese herbal formula. According to the association rule, the most commonly prescribed CHM drug combination was Suan-zao-ren-tang plus Long-dan-xie-gan-tang, while the most commonly prescribed triple drug combination was Suan-zao-ren-tang, Albizia julibrissin, and P. multiflorum. Nevertheless, further clinical trials are needed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of these CHMs for treating insomnia.