Acne vulgaris is a common skin condition in adolescents. The prevalence of acne is thought to vary between ethnic groups and countries. A large-scale community-based study was performed in six cities in China to determine the prevalence and possible risk factors for acne in the Chinese population. A total of 17,345 inhabitants were included in this study. Of these, 1,399 were found to have acne. No acne was found in subjects under 10 years of age, and only 1.6% in the 10-year-old group had acne. Prevalence then increased rapidly with age, up to 46.8% in the 19-year-old group. After that, it declined gradually with age. Acne was rare in people over 50 years of age. In subjects in their late teens and 20s, acne was more prevalent in males, while in those over 30 years of age it was more prevalent in females. In subjects with acne, 68.4% had mild; 26.0% had moderate and 5.6% had severe acne. In adult acne, persistent acne was much more common (83.3%) than late-onset acne (16.7%). Smoking and drinking were found to be associated with adolescent acne, while no association was found between diet and acne. These results suggest that the prevalence of acne in the Chinese population is lower than that in Caucasian populations, and that adult acne is not uncommon in Chinese subjects.