Highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza virus was first detected in the People's Republic of China (China) in 1996 and has caused over 100 outbreaks of disease in poultry since 2004. The Chinese Government has pursued a vaccination strategy to control avian influenza infection in poultry. A series of vaccines including whole-virus inactivated vaccine, recombinant fowlpox vaccine and recombinant Newcastle disease virus vaccine have been developed and billions of doses of the vaccines are produced every year. The Government has also developed strategies to fund vaccine production and to offer financial compensation for the slaughter of infected poultry. The vaccination strategy has been effective and has played an important role in reducing the incidence of H5N1 infection in poultry and in markedly reducing the number of cases of human infection. Despite the successes obtained with the vaccination strategy, China still faces challenges in its efforts to eliminate H5N1 virus circulation in poultry.